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Do work and family-care histories predict health in older women?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rebecca Benson, Karen Glaser, Laurie M. Corna, Loretta G. Platts, Giorgio Di Gessa, Diana Worts, Debora Price, Peggy McDonough, Amanda Sacker

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1015
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Volume27
Issue number6
Early online date23 Sep 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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Abstract

Background
Social and policy changes in the last several decades have increased women’s options for combining paid work with family care. We explored whether specific combinations of work and family care over the lifecourse are associated with variations in women’s later life health.
Methods
We used sequence analysis to group women in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing according to their work histories and fertility. Using logistic regression, we tested for group differences in later life disability, depressive symptomology and mortality, while controlling for childhood health and socioeconomic position and a range of adult socio-economic circumstances and health behaviours.
Results
Women who transitioned from family care to either part-time work after a short break from the labour force, or to full-time work, reported lower odds of having a disability compared with the reference group of women with children who were mostly employed full-time throughout. Women who shifted from family care to part-time work after a long career break had lower odds of mortality than the reference group. Depressive symptoms were not associated with women’s work and family care histories.
Conclusion
Women’s work histories are predictive of their later life disability and mortality. This relationship may be useful in targeting interventions aimed at improving later life health. Further research is necessary to explore the mechanisms linking certain work histories to poorer later life health and to design interventions for those affected.

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