IPR Policy Brief - Lone mothers, work and depression

Susan Harkness

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The idea that ‘work is good for you’ has long been championed by politicians and policy makers. Recent research by the University of Bath suggests that, for lone mothers, paid work that enables them to balance work and childcare responsibilities really does improve their mental well-being. This is particularly where there is flexibility over working hours and no pressure to work more hours than desired.

The study carried out by Dr Susan Harkness, in collaboration with Gingerbread (a leading charity supporting single parent families) and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, has shown that being in paid employment is a key factor explaining the fall in lone mother’s rates of depression seen in the last decade. This improvement was found only among working lone mothers; for those not in work, mental well-being deteriorated over the same period. This contrasts with the mid-1990s, when work and positive mental health showed little association, with those both in and out of work being at high risk of depression.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Bath
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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