The Importance of Work: Changing Work Commitment Following the Transition to Parenthood

Marie M. Evertsson, Swedish Institute for Social Research
Richard Breen, Yale University

We use a longitudinal approach to examine changes in subjective work commitment among recent mothers in Sweden. In a sample of childless women in 1999, we study changes in the importance of work by 2003 for those who have children compared to those who do not. In 1999, there are no significant differences between the two groups. However, structural equation models show that in 2003, women who gave birth in the period are less work committed. Additional analyses including women with older children indicate that the negative relationship between becoming a parent and work commitment is restricted to the first few years of the child’s life; when women have children older than four years of age, they are not less work committed than non-mothers. We interpret the lower commitment among recent mothers’ as a way of temporarily adjusting to difficulties of juggling work and family during the early pre-school years.

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Presented in Session 53: Work and Family