IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/spr/soinre/v128y2016i2d10.1007_s11205-015-1056-9.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Effect of Employment on the Mental Health of Lone Mothers in the UK Before and After New Labour’s Welfare Reforms

Author

Listed:
  • Susan Harkness

    () (University of Bath)

Abstract

Abstract Since 1999 a series of reforms have been introduced to the UK welfare system with the aim of increasing rates of lone parent employment. Increased employment was expected not only to reduce rates of lone parent poverty but to provide wider benefits, including improvements in lone parents’ mental health. Yet for lone mothers there is very little evidence on how work influences mental health. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) between 1991 and 2008 this paper assesses how lone mothers’ mental health, measured in the BHPS using the General Health Questionnaire, is influenced by employment and how this relationship changed over the period of welfare reform. A range of panel data models are estimated and the results and compare the results for lone mothers are compared to those for mothers with partners. In the period after welfare reform being in work was associated with significant improvements in lone mothers’ mental health. This was in sharp contrast to the situation prior to reform when there was very little association with employment, both those in and out of work had a very high risk of poor mental health. For partnered mothers, employment is also associated with improved mental health, although the effect is much smaller than that for lone mothers in the period after welfare reform and shows no significant change over time. That there was no change in the relationship between work and mental health for those with partners suggests that reforms to the welfare system have been an important source of the observed improvements in the mental health of working lone mothers. We conclude that under a supportive policy environment employment can lead to improvements in lone mothers’ mental health but that these gains are not automatic, as was the case in the 1990s when lone mothers saw no significant mental health benefits to work.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Harkness, 2016. "The Effect of Employment on the Mental Health of Lone Mothers in the UK Before and After New Labour’s Welfare Reforms," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 128(2), pages 763-791, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:128:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-015-1056-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s11205-015-1056-9
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s11205-015-1056-9
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:1:82-88_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ana Llena-Nozal & Maarten Lindeboom & France Portrait, 2004. "The effect of work on mental health: does occupation matter?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(10), pages 1045-1062.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Yannis Georgellis, 2013. "Back to Baseline in Britain: Adaptation in the British Household Panel Survey," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 80(319), pages 496-512, July.
    4. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    5. Bridges, Sarah & Disney, Richard, 2010. "Debt and depression," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 388-403, May.
    6. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    7. AlisonL. Booth & JanC. vanOurs, 2008. "Job Satisfaction and Family Happiness: The Part-Time Work Puzzle," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(526), pages 77-99, February.
    8. repec:bla:jemstr:v:27:y:2018:i:1:p:23-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Baker, D. & North, K., 1999. "Does employment improve the health of lone mothers?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 121-131, July.
    10. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
    11. Lahelma, Eero & Laaksonen, Mikko & Martikainen, Pekka & Rahkonen, Ossi & Sarlio-Lähteenkorva, Sirpa, 2006. "Multiple measures of socioeconomic circumstances and common mental disorders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(5), pages 1383-1399, September.
    12. Clark, Andrew E., 1997. "Job satisfaction and gender: Why are women so happy at work?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 341-372, December.
    13. Ifcher John, 2011. "The Happiness of Single Mothers after Welfare Reform," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-29, September.
    14. Adrian Chadi & Clemens Hetschko, 2018. "The magic of the new: How job changes affect job satisfaction," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(1), pages 23-39, March.
    15. Paul Gregg & Susan Harkness & Sarah Smith, 2009. "Welfare Reform and Lone Parents in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages 38-65, February.
    16. Laporte, Audrey & Windmeijer, Frank, 2005. "Estimation of panel data models with binary indicators when treatment effects are not constant over time," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 389-396, September.
    17. Broom, Dorothy H. & D'Souza, Rennie M. & Strazdins, Lyndall & Butterworth, Peter & Parslow, Ruth & Rodgers, Bryan, 2006. "The lesser evil: Bad jobs or unemployment? A survey of mid-aged Australians," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 575-586, August.
    18. Kiernan, Kathleen E. & Huerta, Maria Carmen, 2008. "Economic deprivation, maternal depression, parenting and children's cognitive and emotional development in early childhood," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43720, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Cynthia Osborne & Sara McLanahan, 2007. "Partnership Instability and Child Well-being," Working Papers 946, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    20. Winkelmann, Liliana & Winkelmann, Rainer, 1998. "Why Are the Unemployed So Unhappy? Evidence from Panel Data," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 65(257), pages 1-15, February.
    21. repec:pri:crcwel:wp04-16-ff-osborne is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Dhaval Dave & R. Inas Rashad & Jasmina Spasojevic, 2008. "The Effects of Retirement on Physical and Mental Health Outcomes," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 497-523, October.
    23. Hope, Steven & Power, Chris & Rodgers, Bryan, 1999. "Does financial hardship account for elevated psychological distress in lone mothers?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(12), pages 1637-1649, December.
    24. Chris Herbst, 2013. "Welfare reform and the subjective well-being of single mothers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 203-238, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Lone mothers; Work; Welfare reform; Mental health;

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:128:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-015-1056-9. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: http://www.springer.com .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.