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Maternal Working Conditions and Child Well-Being in Welfare-leaving Families.

May 2005

Rachel Dunifon, Ph.D., Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University; Ariel Kalil, Ph.D., Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.

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In the wake of welfare reform, thousands of low-income single mothers have transitioned into the labor market. This paper examines how the work conditions of mothers leaving welfare for employment are associated with the emotional well-being of 372 children ages 5 to 15. We examine the cumulative incidence, over a five-year period, of maternal non - “family - friendly” work conditions including long work hours, erratic work schedules, non-day shifts, and lengthy commute times in association with children’s internalizing and externalizing behavior problems and levels of positive behavior. We find that mothers’ lengthy commute times are associated with higher levels of internalizing problem behaviors and lower levels of positive behaviors.

Child Well-being and Child Development, Welfare Reform and the Administration of Welfare Programs