Study finds working mothers are healthier

Women who return to work shortly after having children experience better mental and physical health in terms of mobility and energy at age 40 than their stay-at-home counterparts. This is according to research from the University of Akron's Assistant Sociology Professor Adrianne Frech and Pennsylvania State University's Sarah Damaske, who found working mothers benefit from more than just a salary.

The sociologists revealed that using data from 2,540 women who became mothers between 1978 and 1995 and taking into account race, cognitive ability, single motherhood, age of first birth and pre-pregnancy employment, the choices women make earlier in their professional lives can affect their wellbeing in middle age.

Prof Frech noted: "Work is good for your health, both mentally and physically. It gives women a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, control and autonomy."

The study also found working full-time appeared to have more benefits than part-tie positions, as they offer less job security, fewer benefits and lower pay, while persistent unemployment can be a significant stress catalyst in women, leading to physical health problems.

Chartered Psychologist Dr Almuth McDowall from the University of Surrey comments:

"These findings are welcome and timely. That work is good for all of us has long been documented, and it’s nice to see women-specific evidence, given how much ‘stick’ working mums often get, and the guilt that comes with juggling working lives. It’s sobering however that the ‘part-time trap’ still exists. We have got ‘way to go’ to enable women to pursue fulfilling and equal careers in the UK."

You can watch Adrianne Frech talking about her work in a video on the University of Akron website.