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Berlin Social Science Centre: Mothers' and Fathers' Work Hours, Child Gender, and Behavior in Middle Childhood

Boys whose fathers work long hours can display delinquent and aggressive behaviour, according to a longitudinal study that used data of more than 1000 children in Western Australia.

Berlin Social Science Centre

 

With girls seemingly unaffected by their fathers working 55 hours or more per week, the study also found that, by comparison, working hours of mothers had little impact on children. Child behaviour was measured in kids at the ages of five, eight and ten. Researchers are calling for further investigation into the relationship between parental work hours and children’s behavioural problems.

This study examined the association between typical parental work hours (including non-employed parents) and children's behavior in two-parent heterosexual families. Child behavior was measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at ages 5, 8, and 10 in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study (N = 4,201 child-year observations).

Compared to those whose fathers worked fewer hours per week, children whose fathers worked 55 hours or more per week had significantly higher levels of externalizing behavior. This association was not explained by father–child time during the week, poorer family functioning, or overreactive parenting practice.

Further, when stratifying the analysis by child gender, this association appeared to exist only in boys. Mothers' work hours were unrelated to children's behavioral problems.

The role of parent and child gender in the relationships between parental work hours and children's behavioral problems, together with mediating factors, warrants further investigation.

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