Published Papers - Abstract 137

Warner-Smith P, Mishra G & Brown P. Women’s wellbeing and their satisfaction with hours of paid work. , 2002; :

While the labour force participation of women in post-industrial western societies is increasing, study after study shows that women still take major responsibility for family work, whatever their employment commitments. However, it has also been shown that employment is associated with better health and well-being for women. In regard to optimal integration of work, wellbeing and family life, there is therefore a need for more fine-grained research which looks at the specifics of women’s health and their patterns of time use.This paper reports on some associations between satisfaction with hours of paid work and the physical and mental health of mid age women. Data are drawn from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (now known as the Women’s Health Australia [WHA] project) which is a 20 year survey of the health of over 40,000 Australian women in three age cohorts. At the baseline survey in 1996 the cohorts were aged 18-23 (‘young’), 45-50 (‘mid age’) and 70-75 (‘older’). Mid age women who were happy with their hours of paid work were most likely to be working part-time between 16 and 24 hours per week. They were followed by those who were working ‘long part-time’ of 25 to 34 hours per week. However, in every time category, women who were happy with their hours of work had better mental and physical health than women who would like to work either more hours or fewer hours. While ‘long part-time’ hours appear to be generally linked with optimal health for mid age women, it is certainly not the case that ‘one size fits all’. Factors such as type of occupation, caring responsibilities, and living arrangement were found to be associated with satisfaction with hours of paid employment.