Parents' nonstandard work schedules and child well-being: A critical review of the literature

Jianghong Li, Sarah E. Johnson, Wen Jui Han, Sonia Andrews, Garth Kendall, Lyndall Strazdins, Alfred Dockery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper provides a comprehensive review of empirical evidence linking parental nonstandard work schedules to four main child developmental outcomes: internalizing and externalizing problems, cognitive development, and body mass index. We evaluated the studies based on theory and methodological rigor (longitudinal data, representative samples, consideration of selection and information bias, confounders, moderators, and mediators). Of 23 studies published between 1980 and 2012 that met the selection criteria, 21 reported significant associations between nonstandard work schedules and an adverse child developmental outcome. The associations were partially mediated through parental depressive symptoms, low quality parenting, reduced parent-child interaction and closeness, and a less supportive home environment. These associations were more pronounced in disadvantaged families and when parents worked such schedules full time. We discuss the nuance, strengths, and limitations of the existing studies, and propose recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-73
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Child mental health
  • Child obesity
  • Cognitive development
  • Nonstandard work schedules
  • Parental employment
  • Shift work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Parents' nonstandard work schedules and child well-being: A critical review of the literature'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this