Trends in Work–Family Context Among U.S. Women by Education Level, 1976 to 2011

Jennifer Karas Montez, Erika Sabbath, M. Maria Glymour, Lisa F. Berkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This study compares trends in work–family context by education level from 1976 to 2011 among U.S. women. The major aim is to assess whether differences in work–family context by education level widened, narrowed, or persisted. We used data from the 1976–2011 March Current Population Surveys on women aged 25–64 (n = 1,597,914). We compare trends in four work–family forms by education level within three race/ethnic groups. The work–family forms reflect combinations of marital and employment status among women with children at home. Trends in the four work–family forms exhibited substantial heterogeneity by education and race/ethnicity. Educational differences in the work–family forms widened mainly among white women. Compared with more-educated peers, white women without a high school credential became increasingly less likely to be married, to be employed, to have children at home, and to combine these roles. In contrast, educational differences in the work–family forms generally narrowed among black women and were directionally mixed among Hispanic women. Only one form—unmarried and employed with children at home—became more strongly linked to a woman’s education level within all three race/ethnic groups. This form carries an elevated risk of work–family conflict and its prevalence increased moderately during the 35-year period. Taken together, the trends underscore recent calls to elevate work–family policy on the national agenda.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-648
Number of pages20
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Women
  • Work–family conflict
  • Work–family context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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