Effective work/life strategies: Working couples, work conditions, gender, and life quality

Phyllis Moen, Yan Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations


Using data on a sub-sample of workers in dual-earner families (from the 1992 National Study of the Changing Workforce), we examine the strategies they use to manage work/life pressures, as well as how these strategies, along with workers' life stage and work conditions, predict multiple measures of psychological life quality (low work/family conflict, stress, and overload, along with high coping/mastery). We find that strategies and work conditions arc gendered, with workers in dual-earner couples most apt to be in neotraditional arrangements (husbands in professional and/or long-hour jobs and wives working fewer hours, often in non-professional occupations). Life quality is gendered as well, with women in dual-earner arrangements reporting more stress and overload, as well as lower levels of coping/mastery than men. However, the factors associated with life quality are similar across gender, with conditions at work serving as key predictors of life quality indicators for both men and women. Specifically, having a demanding job and job insecurity are associated with low life quality, while having a supportive supervisor is positively linked to life quality outcomes. Work hours and work-hour preferences matter as well. Men and women in couples where both spouses work regular (39-45) full-time hours, tend to score high on indicators of life quality, while those working long hours and those preferring to work less, are less likely to do so.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-326
Number of pages36
JournalSocial Problems
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2000


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