Work Schedule Patterns and Health over Thirty-Years of Working Lives: NLSY79 Cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As work constitutes a central part of an individual’s life and people tend to define themselves by their career or job, our working lives hold a critical key to our happiness and health. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1979 cohort (N = 7273) and building upon the cumulative advantages and disadvantages theory with a lifecourse perspective, this paper examines how work schedule patterns, together with social position, are associated with our health at age 50. Results indicate that engaging in work schedule patterns that were anything but mostly or only standard hours was associated with poorer health outcomes at age 50 measured by SF-12 physical and mental functions and clinical-risk depressive symptoms. These adverse health consequences might be particularly true for those with the most disadvantaged social positions: females, those with low educational attainment (e.g., high school or below), and those who experienced economic hardship in early life (exposure to poverty or welfare). In addition, the associations between work schedule patterns and health at age 50 might differ by the age period during which one works a particular schedule (i.e., between ages 22–29, 30–39, and 40–49). These results speak to how cumulative advantages and disadvantages via the intersectionality of work and social position throughout a lifetime may shape not only our opportunities and constraints brought about by our work but also our long-term well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Cumulative advantages and disadvantages
  • Health outcomes
  • Lifecourse perspective
  • NLSY79
  • Work schedule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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