English title: Work life and mental well-being: single and coupled employed mothers in Southern Europe and Scandinavia

Author(s): Torill Bull -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2009


Many European mothers, single and coupled, combine work outside the home and family life. The effects of this on their mental wellbeing may vary depending on the level of support available from the State’s welfare system, since welfare may buffer working mothers from some of the stress that can arise from trying to manage significant responsibilities on the job and at home. Welfare may be especially important for single working mothers, for whom the burden of multiple roles may be even heavier. The present study assessed levels and predictors of wellbeing of single and coupled employed mothers in Greece, Portugal and Spain, where welfare support is relatively limited. Results were compared to a parallel study with data from Denmark, Norway and Sweden, where welfare support is relatively comprehensive. Coupled mothers in Scandinavia had significantly lower financial hardship, longer education, higher life satisfaction, more enriching jobs, practical support, financial support and social participation than coupled mothers in the Southern European sample. On the other hand, the Scandinavian coupled mothers had higher levels of work family conflict than coupled mothers in Southern Europe. Single mothers in Scandinavia, compared to single mothers in Southern Europe, had significantly longer education, higher life satisfaction and positive affect, more enriching jobs, confidant support, practical support, financial support and social participation. Level of job stress was the same for all mother groups. All groups differed significantly from each other in level of financial hardship, with Scandinavian coupled mothers being best off, followed by Scandinavian single mothers, Southern European coupled mothers, and Southern European single mothers. The regional differences suggest that single motherhood per se need not be a risk factor for poorer wellbeing, and that welfare policies may have a protective effect for the mental wellbeing of single mothers.

Volume: 16

Issue: 3

From page no: 6

To page no: 16

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1177/1757975909339764

Journal: Global Health Promotion

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