Single Mothers, Social Capital, and Work-Family Conflict

Teresa Ciabattari
2005 Social Science Research Network  
The purpose of this paper is to examine work-family conflict among low-income, unmarried mothers. I examine how social capital affects work-family conflict and how both social capital and work-family conflict affect employment. I analyze the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national sample of non-marital births collected in 1998 -2000 and 1999 -2002. Results show that social capital reduces unmarried mothers' reports of work-family conflict, especially for low-income women. In
more » ... ion, mothers who report high levels of work-family conflict are less likely to be employed; this pattern holds for women who are not looking for work as well as those who are. However, even at high levels of conflict, low-income women are more likely to be employed. The results suggest that work-family conflict has two consequences for unmarried women: it keeps them out of the labor force and makes it more difficult for women who want to work to maintain employment stability. Changing the employment patterns of low-income women was among the primary goals of the 1996 welfare reforms. By enacting time limits and work requirements for welfare recipients, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) dramatically changed the policy climate for low-income families. While the requirements in PRWORA sound straightforward (i.e., that recipients should be employed), the real-life complexities of work and family responsibilities, especially in lower income, single mother families, are often ignored (Lambert, 1999) . As Hays (2003) notes, relative to middle-class parents, "welfare mothers must face these demanding dual commitments [to work and family care] with many fewer financial assets, marketable skills, and familial resources backing them up, and under much more powerful economic and logistical constraints" (p. 53). The purpose of this paper is to examine work-family conflict among low-income, unmarried mothers. Specifically, I test how women's social capital, defined here as an individual's access to resources through membership in social networks (Portes, 1998), affects work-family conflict, and how both social capital and work-family conflict affect employment stability. The paper makes several contributions. First, the research on work-family conflict tends to focus on professional women in dual-earner marriages
doi:10.2139/ssrn.746444 fatcat:d3dls7f6gzb6lmxpwod6o3zfay