Parental work schedules and children's cognitive trajectories

Wen Jui Han, Liana E. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous work has shown an association between mothers' nonstandard work schedules and children's well-being. We built on this research by examining the relationship between parental shift work and children's reading and math trajectories from age 5-6 to 13-14. Using data (N = 7,105) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and growth-curve modeling, we found that children's math and reading trajectories were related to parents' nonstandard shifts (i.e., evening, night, or variable). We found that having a mother who worked more years at a night shift was associated with lower reading scores, having a mother work more years at evening or night shifts was associated with reduced math trajectories, and having a father work more years at an evening shift was associated with reduced math scores. Mediation tests suggest that eating meals together, parental knowledge about children's whereabouts, and certain after-school activities might help explain these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-980
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Academic achievement
  • Cognitive trajectory
  • Families and work
  • Growth-curve modeling
  • Nonstandard work schedules
  • Shift work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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