Borgmann, Lea-Sophie; Kroll, Lars E.; Muters, Stephan; Rattay, Petra; and Lampert, Thomas. 2019. SSM-Population Health. Vol. 9.

The increasing labor market participation of women in Europe leads to many women and men having to reconcile paid work with family work and thus reporting work-family conflict (WFC). WFC is related to different dimensions of health. In the present article, we analyzed the role different reconciliation policies among European countries may play regarding WFC and its association with self-reported health.

The analyses are based on data from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey 2015. The working populations from 23 European countries aged between 18 and 59 with at least one child up to 18 years of age are included (n = 10,273). Weighted logistic regression was applied to estimate the association between WFC and self-reported general health (SRH). Using multilevel models, country-level variations in the association of individual-level WFC and health were calculated. In a second step, the effect of country-level reconciliation policies on WFC was examined (adjusted for age, sociodemographic and occupational characteristics).

The odds ratio for moderate to very poor SRH is 2.5 (95% CI: 1.92–3.34) for mothers with high WFC compared to mothers with low WFC. For fathers with high WFC, the adjusted odds ratio is also 2.5 (95% CI: 1.80–3.37). Between countries, the association between WFC and health is similar. Country-level parental leave policies, the use of formal childcare and mothers’ labor market participation are associated with reduced WFC in Europe.

The results reveal a strong association between WFC and SRH in Europe. The multilevel analyses show that certain reconciliation policies have an impact on the prevalence of WFC, with different results for mothers and fathers. Mothers in particular can be supported by sufficient maternal leave and formal care for children. These are tangible policy approaches for reducing WFC and may thus improve health in Europe.