Self-reported health among lone mothers and maternal employment
Lone motherhood is often associated to factors increasing women’s risk of developing poor health, such as being unemployed or poor. Employment may foster better physical health by attenuating economic hardship and improving overall well-being. Yet, employment may represent a stress factor for lone mothers, who often carry the dual role of main caregiver and family breadwinner. This paper investigates how employment associates to self-assessed health by lone mothers in comparison to mothers living with a partner in the context of the Swiss welfare state. In Switzerland, generous unemployment support goes hand in hand with poor provisions for families, expensive public childcare, and marriage-based taxation. This translates into low compatibility between work and family, and high shares of maternal part-time work. Drawing on data from the Swiss Household Panel (waves 1999-2011) we show that lone mothers who are out of the labor market, but with some education, score worse in health than mothers in couple with similar characteristics. Yet, lone mothers working full-time had better health scores than those working part-time while the opposite is the case for mothers living in couples. The results are discussed in terms of growing social inequalities among lone mothers.