Parental Employment and the Future of the Society: The 2014 Child Well-Being Study

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 5A G (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Wen-Jui HAN, New York Univesity, USA
Demographic and societal trends, coupling with globalization, in recent decades around the world have changed the forms of parental employment and thus the way we care for our children. Parental employment—both maternal and paternal—has evolved in recent decades, taking very different forms compared to decades ago. Long and non-day hours are becoming the norm for many careers around the world. Research using data from developed countries such as United States have shown that parents working at hours that are early morning, evenings, nights, or rotating shifts may have compromised children’s well-being to certain degree. This paper builds upon and extends beyond the existing literature to examine, as the first, this issue using a sample of children in Shanghai, China. As families in China make up a great share of the world labor force population and Chinese children will make up a great share of the world population in the coming years, we need to understand the patterns of parental employment and how that may shape the developmental experiences of their children. We collected information on approximately 2,200 first-grade children who were attending public schools in Shanghai, China during spring semester of 2014. School administrators, first-grade classroom teachers, and parents of children were surveyed. About one-third of surveyed parents of first-graders worked at nonday schedules. Parents with nonday schedules compared to those with daytime regular schedules tended to be younger, lower-educated, receiving lower social support, and having more depressive symptoms. Children of parents worked at nonday schedule compared to their counterparts also tended to have worse social and emotional well-being and lower academic performance. As China has been and is experiencing fast economic development and transformation, attention is needed to how the macroeconomic changes and thus changes in parental employment may shape the future generations of world citizens.