The Stress of Balancing Work and Family

Policy Paper
Sept. 17, 2007

Executive Summary

American families confront major challenges in balancing work and family life. Workers report that they would prefer fewer hours, while new technological capabilities require parents to bring more job responsibilities home with them. Mothers and fathers encounter strain in work and home environments alike. Polling and surveillance data confirm that the balance between work and family care needs attention. Some of the most quantifiable and severe costs of this burden on families are adverse health outcomes. This paper catalogues a number of factors linked to job stress and work/family conflict: metabolic syndrome, hypertension, heart disease, poor dietary habits, obesity, and mental illness.

These chronic and systemic harms place a heavy burden -- financially, logistically, and psychologically -- on American middle-class families. Families are the fundamental building block of the next social contract; they raise the next generation of Americans. Only through sound policy solutions and broader workplace flexibility can America overcome the challenges that its families face.

For the complete paper, please see the attached PDF below.

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