A piece by Tom Whipple in today’s Times:
Mothers of children under the age of three are less happy if they stay in full-time employment, a study has found.
The study is the latest to investigate the consequences of recent social revolutions in women’s employment. “More than 50 years ago, Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique challenged the image of harmonious middle-class domesticity and advanced the idea that homemaking makes women unhappy,” [J4MB: Well, that would be the authoritative work on women’s happiness in relation to family life and paid employment] writes Dana Hamplová, from the Czech Academy of Sciences, in the Journal of Happiness Studies. “Yet, even after decades of discussions, the question of whether working mothers enjoy better subjective quality of life than stay-at-home mothers is still unresolved.”
The survey of almost 5,000 mothers from 30 European countries looked at responses to the questions “How happy would you say you are?” and “How satisfied are you with your life?” The study found a small but significant increase in happiness among mothers who were not working, compared with full-time workers. In a comparison with part-timers the difference was not significant.
Dr Hamplová said there were several hypotheses about the effect of staying in work. According to some, having multiple roles in life enables people to be more content. However, particularly for those with young children, there is a competing theory that parents can become overloaded with commitments.
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