Precarious parental employment, economic hardship, and parenting and child happiness amidst a pandemic

Wen Jui Han, Jake Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As labor markets in recent decades have become increasingly volatile and precarious, more workers are susceptible to working conditions that threaten their economic security and thus their well-being and that of their families. We examined the associations between precarious parental employment, income and job loss, and aggravation in parenting and child happiness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our measure of precarity is more comprehensive than those used in prior studies using U.S. samples. We used an online cross-sectional dataset collected in May 2020 in the United States to examine parenting and child happiness, controlling for a rich set of sociodemographic characteristics. We found that aspects of job precarity related to feeling vulnerable at work and receiving low material reward and losing a job during the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly associated with higher aggravation in parenting and a lower degree of child happiness reported by parents. These results primarily were driven by parents with lower education (e.g., less than college). Our analysis underscores the vulnerability faced by working parents and how a public health crisis magnified the dire consequences of precarious employment on parenting and child happiness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106343
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Child happiness
  • Income loss
  • Job loss
  • Parenting
  • Precarious parental employment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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