Getting Burned-Out is a Matter of Time: Are State-Provided Family-Friendly Policies able to Moderate the Relationship Between Work-Care-Time-Accumulation and Maternal Burnout?
Gaal, Jessey van
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Background: Many theories found a link between stress or exhaustion from work/care responsibilities and burnout, especially for mothers with (young) children. As women are increasingly expected to combine labor market participation with family care responsibilities, so-called “double shift” working is becoming the new standard. Research on accumulation of time spend on work/care (WCTA) is scarce, and so is the evidence on the direct link between WCTA and Maternal Burnout (MB). As Family-Friendly Policies (FFPs) are believed to lower stress-levels as a result of e.g., flexible work-time arrangements, it is interesting to investigate the link between WCTA and MB, and the possible moderating role of FFPs. Methods: Several existing datasets were used to investigate the various concepts (Roskam et al., 2017; OECD.Stats, n.d.). A sample of 4760 working mothers in a heterosexual relationship from 18 OECD countries (Mage = 37.71 SDage = 6.92) answered questions on time spend on work/care and parental burnout between 2017 and 2019. Several models were tested with SPSS using (multiple) linear regression analysis (MLR). Results: Results showed that WCTA and MB, and most of its components, were positively and significantly related, except for Emotional Distancing, which was negatively and significantly related (H1-2). Also, no evidence was found for moderation of FFPs (H3-4). When distinguishing between policy types, the model including familiarizing policies was significant and explained more variance in MB than the model including defamiliarizing policies. However, moderation effects were not significant (H5). Discussion: The results of this study are surprising as state provided FFPs seem unable to decrease burnout levels for mothers that are experience high combined work and care hours, although such FFPs are implemented to establish a balance between the two domains. More emphasis may therefore be put on employer benefits and arrangements in tackling future rates of burnout among mothers.