News & Events

Malta News - 18/07/2019

Job stress and marital breakdown

Author: Jessica Galea
Published on Business Today 18th July 2019

Due to the increase in education levels, women are seeking greater job satisfaction and this led to the rise of female participation in the work force.

Monetary pressures are forcing women to enter the labour force even more.

Today, families have a lot of economic pressures, these include loans that need to be repaid every month, apart from other expenses.

Not only is the rate of mothers entering the work force increasing, but mothers are also working longer hours which means that fewer hours are being spent with children.

The increment of women in the workforce brought with it social and psychological impacts on the wellbeing of working women themselves, on their children and their family and on society as a whole.

Statistics show that monetary pressures are clearly evident. A study conducted by the Central Bank of Malta (2013) found that 34.1% of the households had some kind of dept charges. Of these, nearly 16% had loans to cover their main residence or other real estate.

With regards to the spending and expenses in households, the Central bank of Malta (2013) found that the average spending on food and drinks which are consumed at home every year was estimated at €4,800.

Furthermore, it was estimated that every year, a total of €1,120 is spent on food and drinks in cafes, restaurants, bars, among others. Every year, an average spending of €1,004 is spent on household rent.

Often, children are impacted when housewives enter the workforce as they are more likely to be neglected by their caregivers since they have to spend much of their time at work.

Since children are spending most of the time alone, they are more likely to experience physical and sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties, abortion, domestic violence, and teen pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy can lead to an increase of child poverty rates, an increase of people who are dependent on welfare and the rise of costs that are related with public assistance, more women who are not married and women that have long periods of dependency.

De Jong (2010), in her study on “Working Mothers: Cognitive and Behavioural Effects on Children” found that children of working mothers are more likely to skip school and are less likely to be disciplined.

In fact, half of the participants in De Jong’s study stated that discipline was affected.

Other studies show that another impact of female participation in the workforce is that children of working women are more likely to fail at school.

In fact, research shows that the children of those mothers who are employed in full-time work in the period before their children start going to school get lower scores in mathematics and in reading tests.

Research shows that mothers who go back to work after their baby is born negatively impacts their children later in life. There is a higher chance that these children become jobless and suffer from mental stress.

In their study, Rachel Dunifon et al., (2013) found that children whose mothers worked full-time do worse at school than children whose mothers worked fewer hours.

Anna K. Ettinger et al., (2018) in their study, “Increasing Maternal Employment Influences Child Overweight/Obesity Among Ethnically Diverse Families” found that when there’s an increase in the work intensity performed by a mother, for instance when shifting from being unemployed to employed or from working part-time to full-time employment, the mother’s children are more likely to be overweight or obese.

However, they claimed that the instrument influencing this association is not clear. Wieting (2008) argues that this association is due to the fact that working mothers have less time to prepare meals.

This leads to an increase in consumption of food that are pre-packed with high calories and fat.

Furthermore, Anna K. Ettinger et al., (2018) also found that children had a higher chance of being overweight when mothers increase the hours of their work when their children are in the first years of their life.

These children were 2.6 times more likely to be overweight at seven to eleven years of age. They also found that children were less likely to have problems with their weight when there were steady routines in mealtimes and bedtimes.

Causes of obesity include psychological, social, severe and long-lasting medical issues. It also causes low self-esteem, depression or even suicide and these children are more likely to engage in substance abuse.

Women who participate in the labour force tend to focus more on their career and postpone their plans of having children.

Usually, working women plan on having children when they are in their mid-30s so that they will be able to financially support their children.

Ageing population, which is caused by lower fertility and birth rate and which is the result of a decrease in mortality rate is already an issue and if women continue to delay their plans of having children, the country’s birth rate will continue to decrease.

This causes a problem in the future since the elderly would eventually outnumber the youth.

When this happens, the government will need to use more money on the elderly for the support on care services. Max Roser (2017) claimed that today the average rate of fertility is just below 2.5 children per female.

Over the last half century, this rate has halved.

Working women also have to perform unpaid work at home, thus the working wife and mother has to find a balance between paid and unpaid work.

They also perform multiple roles such as that of rearing children, being parents and teachers, and besides of taking care of their children they also have to take care of their elderly parents, among many other roles.

This can cause a lot of stress and pressure from trying to balance work and family and can impact their psychological well-being.

Furthermore, research shows that job stressors and marital breakdown behaviour are negatively associated with each other.


Author: Jessica Galea, Sociology Researcher.
Published on Business Today 18th July 2019
Get in touch: | +356 21 493 041