Recession and Health: The Impact of Work-Family Strain on Americans' Health in Economic Context

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Virginia Tech

This study adds to current understandings of the relationship between socioeconomic conditions and health by examining the influence of work-family strain on health in the context of the recent Great Recession and the preceding and following years in the United States. Analyses used data from the 2002 and 2008 National Survey of the Changing Workforce (NSCW) and 2002, 2006 and 2010 General Social Survey's Quality of Working Life modules. Findings suggest that work-family strain in general increased during the Great Recession compared to non-recessionary periods, that people who experience lower levels of work-family strain enjoy better health, and that health tends to be better during non-recessionary periods compared to recessionary periods. Work-family strain was shown to mediate a small portion of the impact of macroeconomic condition on health. While work-family strain does not appear to be a primary mediator of the relationship macroeconomic condition and health it remains significant and also a very alterable condition. Findings suggest that positive workplace environments can significantly lessen the negative impacts of work-family strain on health of employees. Improvements of workplace environments and conscious efforts to reduce work-family strain for employees could have significant impact on the health of the working US population with minimal costs during both recessionary and non-recessionary periods.

work-family strain, work-family conflict, health, recession