The Intergenerational Impact of Precarious Work: A retrospective cohort analysis of the association between parent’s employment quality and their children’s behavioral problems

Julia Lund | 2021

Advisor: Anjum Hajat

Research Area(s): Psychiatric Epidemiology, Social Determinants of Health

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BACKGROUND: Employment norms in the U.S. are trending toward increasingly less standard and more precarious arrangements. The quality of one’s job is predictive of their health, material wealth, and capacity for positive emotional and physical parental involvement – each of which are associated with child development and health outcomes. In this study, we explored whether parents’ employment quality (EQ) conferred intergenerational risk to their children’s behavioral health.
METHODS: Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we constructed a multidimensional EQ scale from measures of employment stability, material rewards, working time arrangements, and collective organization. Then, using the 2014 PSID Child Development Supplement (N=3150), we ran multilevel linear regression models to estimate the risk of child behavioral problems as measured by the Behavior Problem Index (BPI), as a function of parental EQ. We explored separately the association between father’s EQ, mother’s EQ, and the higher of either parent’s EQ on child BPI scores.
RESULTS: We found that children of parents with the worst EQ had higher scores on the BPI (Beta=3.87, 95% CI: (1.13, 6.62) for fathers; Beta=0.60, 95% CI: (-0.21, 1.41) for mothers; Beta=0.84, 95% CI: (0.09, 1.59) for the parent with better EQ) than children of parents with the best EQ. Paternal EQ revealed a stronger association with child behavior problems than maternal EQ.
CONCLUSIONS: Parents with precarious/poor EQ are more likely to have children with behavioral health problems.