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Publication Detail
The relationship between maternal employment in childhood and health-related outcomes in adolescence: findings from the BHPS
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  • Authors:
    Pikhartova J
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  • Awarding institution:
    UCL (University College London)
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Objective: Maternal employment has been shown to influence a number of child and adolescent health, cognitive and behavioural outcomes. There are, however, only a limited number of UK studies using health measures as study outcomes. The aim of this thesis is to examine the influence of maternal employment during three periods of childhood on health outcomes among young adults aged 16–21 in the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). Methods: The BHPS is an annual nationally representative panel study which started in 1991, and data from 18 waves were available for this thesis. There were 3,940 individuals with at least one measurement of self-rated health and/or psychological distress and/or smoking in young adulthood (age 16–21) and maternal employment prior to age 16 years. Other variables, such as gender, maternal age, maternal education and marital status, household income, maternal self-rated health, maternal psychological distress and maternal smoking, were used as covariates. Multilevel logistic regression (using clustering of repeated measurements within individuals) was used for the analysis. Results: 19% of young adults reported poor self-rated health, 23% reported psychological distress and 27% reported being current smoker. 56%, 76% and 79% had mothers who worked during the preschool (age 0–4 years), primary school (age 5–11) and secondary school (age 12–16) periods of their childhood. In general, the results suggest that maternal employment is protective for those from socially advantaged families, while it has no effect or increases the risk of poor self-rated health, psychological distress and smoking among those from less advantaged families. Conclusions: The associations between maternal employment during childhood and young adults’ health and smoking differ in different social groups. Maternal employment might have only a limited role in the health and health behaviours of young adults, and maternal education, household income and marital status seem to be stronger predictors of the study outcomes than maternal employment status.
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