Lone Motherhood and Self-Reported Health in Switzerland: Does Paid Work Matter?

Laura Bernardi, Université de Lausanne
Emanuela Struffolino, Université de Lausanne
Marieke Voorpostel, Swiss Foundation for Research in the Social Sciences (FORS)

There is an increasing concern about lone mothers’ health. Negative health outcomes correlate strongly with poverty and unemployment, and lone mothers are overrepresented among the poor and unemployed. Although paid work is not always the most effective path out of poverty, it is certainly a necessary condition to tee off a virtuous circle improving psychological and physical health. Labour market participation can foster better physical health conditions by either attenuating economic hardship, or improving self-esteem and subjective wellbeing. Given the scanty work-family reconciliation policies and the widespread schemes against poverty, Swiss lone mothers might prefer being social benefits recipients rather than being active in the labour market. Our analyses on the Swiss Household panel (waves 1999-2011) show that, even after controlling for potential economic benefits, employment has additional positive effects on lone mothers’ self-perceived health. Such effects are even greater for lone mothers than for mothers in couple.

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Presented in Session 171: Families, Health, and Well-Being