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Mothers' and Fathers' Work Hours, Child Gender, and Behavior in Middle Childhood


  • Current address: Social Science Research Center Berlin, Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Germany.

  • Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Curtin University, G.P.O. Box U1987, Perth, Western Australia, 6845, Australia.

  • National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, College of Medicine, Biology & Environment, Building 62, M Block, Australian National University, ACT, Australia.

  • Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia, P.O. Box 855, West Perth, Western Australia, 6872, Australia.

  • This article was edited by David Demo.

Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Centre for Population Health Research, Curtin University Perth, Australia (


This study examined the association between typical parental work hours (including nonemployed parents) and children's behavior in two-parent heterosexual families. Child behavior was measured by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at ages 5, 8, and 10 in the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study (N = 4,201 child-year observations). Compared to those whose fathers worked fewer hours per week, children whose fathers worked 55 hours or more per week had significantly higher levels of externalizing behavior. This association was not explained by father–child time during the week, poorer family functioning, or overreactive parenting practice. Further, when stratifying the analysis by child gender, this association appeared to exist only in boys. Mothers' work hours were unrelated to children's behavioral problems. The role of parent and child gender in the relationships between parental work hours and children's behavioral problems, together with mediating factors, warrants further investigation.