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Mother's job stability and quality affect children's behaviour, study says. (Child & Family).

OTTAWA -- The stability and quality of a mother's jobs affect behavioural development, according to The Effect of Changes in Maternal Employment and Family Composition on Children's Behaviour, a research paper published by the Applied Research Branch of Human Resources Development Canada.

The fewest behavioural problems were found among children whose mothers changed jobs the least and had the most rewarding jobs.

The study examines the ways that maternal employment, employment transitions, and spells of unemployment, are related to children's behavioural development from 1994 to 1998.

Maternal employment, especially, the number of job changes and periods of unemployment, is found to be associated with higher levels of behaviour problems in children, particularly for indirect aggression behaviour.

As well, stable family composition is associated with relatively better behaviour scores. Family composition which changes over time tends to be associated with relatively worse behaviour scores for children.

However, job stability is not an assurance of better behavior. When mothers had stable but unrewarding jobs, children also experienced higher levels of behavioural problems.

The children with the fewest behavioural problems were children whose mothers changed jobs the least and had the most rewarding jobs.

The analysis focuses on the quality of maternal jobs using, for example, number of hours worked per week. As well, the report also examines how changes in family composition such as becoming a lone parent family or entering into new two parent families, may affect children's behavioural development. Three behavioural scales are used: indirect aggression, emotional disorder-anxiety and conduct disorder-physical aggression.

Paul Roberts prepared the report, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth.
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Publication:Community Action
Date:Jun 16, 2003
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