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Soc Sci Med. 1994 Jan;38(2):285-97.

Double burden or double blessing? Employment, motherhood and mortality in the Longitudinal Study of England and Wales.

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  • 1Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, England.


The OPCS Longitudinal Study has been used to follow up women who were married at the time of the 1971 census, to see if their employment status and responsibility for children at that time had any detectable consequence for their mortality up to 1985. Of particular interest was whether the combination of employment and child rearing produced any signs of role overload, or its opposite hypothesized effect, role enhancement. The results show poorer health among those with neither employment nor children, but these effects did not appear to interact. We suspect the data reveal health selection as much as health effects of the roles taken separately. Whatever the stresses and strains of combining jobs and child rearing, they do not appear drastic enough to result in early death.

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