Working mothers are happier and healthier

Mothers who work are happier than those who tend to stay at home during the day, new research has suggested. Published in the American Psychological Association's Journal of Family Psychology, the study revealed mothers with jobs are often healthier and report fewer symptoms of depression.

Using data from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, investigators looked at interviews of mothers before the birth of their child along with meetings that took place across the following decade.

Cheryl Buehler, Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro - which was established by legislative enactment in 1891 - said: "In all cases with significant differences in maternal wellbeing, such as conflict between work and family or parenting, the comparison favoured part-time work over full-time or not working."

Professor Buehler added most cases showed little difference between those employed on a part-time or full-time basis.

Eva Lloyd, Reader in Early Childhood at the University of East London, commented: "As always, we should be cautious about generalising from US findings to the British situation, because of contextual variations. Note, too, that the NHCHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development sample was not representative of the US population, but skewed towards families with slightly higher than average incomes.

"These findings are nevertheless roughly in line with those from UK studies such as the Families, Children and Child Care study - whose sample size incidentally is equivalent to that of the NHCHD sample - and the 20 sociological and inter-disciplinary studies of families and work in the 21st century synthesised by Dex in 2003 for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation."