Gradual return to work: The antecedents and consequences of switching to part -time work after first childbirth

Stacy S Kim, University of Pennsylvania


For many workers, the birth of a child marks the beginning of their work-family concerns. Part-time work is often believed to be a solution to these concerns by child development experts, policy-makers, those in the media, and by parents. Yet, little is known whether switching from full-time to part-time work after the birth of a first child actually helps a first-time mother better manage her work and family life. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth was analyzed to uncover the conditions that allow a woman to return gradually to work. Additional survey and interview data were collected in the Chicago metropolitan area to see if a gradual return to work would decrease work-family conflict and/or increase work-family satisfaction compared to mothers who continued to work full-time. Results show that mothers who worked full-time before childbirth were more likely to switch to part-time work if they did not work in goods producing industries, were well-educated, were living with their spouse during the year of childbirth, and held traditional attitudes about women's roles at work and at home. While a gradual return did appear to help mothers to some degree, it did not appear to be a major factor in determining work-family conflict and work-family satisfaction. What appeared to matter was whether mothers were working hours that were close to what they perceived as ideal, were working a schedule they felt was accommodating to their families, and were satisfied with their jobs.

Subject Area

Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Social psychology|Management|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Kim, Stacy S, "Gradual return to work: The antecedents and consequences of switching to part -time work after first childbirth" (2000). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9965505.