Published Papers - Abstract 145

Warner-Smith P & Mishra G. 'Happy Hours': Women’s wellbeing and their satisfaction with hours of paid work. Health Sociology Review, 2002; 11(1-2): 39-48

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 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'). While it appears that part-time work is more generally associated with better health for mid-age women, the analysis discussed in this paper showed that 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. This was true irrespective of how many hours the women actually worked. These findings underscore links between health and employment, and point to the need for social policies which facilitate women's preferences for paid work.