Volume 44 - Article 26 | Pages 609–626

Educational gradients in nonstandard work schedules among mothers and fathers in the United Kingdom

By Afshin Zilanawala

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Date received:27 Dec 2019
Date published:30 Mar 2021
Word count:2499
Keywords:education, maternal employment, Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), nonstandard work, paternal employment


Background: Mothers’ and fathers’ participation in nonstandard employment across children’s lives is not well understood in the United Kingdom.

Objective: The first objective is to describe the prevalence of nonstandard work schedules (e.g., evenings, weekends, nights) among employed mothers and fathers using longitudinal data. The second objective is to document the education gradient in parental nonstandard work schedules over the first decade of a child’s life.

Methods: Linear probability models predict participation in nonstandard work schedules, adjusting for demographic variables, at each survey wave by education for each parent, using the first five waves of the Millennium Cohort Study.

Results: Employed mothers with less than NVQ2 (or less than high school) were most likely to work nonstandard schedules across childhood. Among employed fathers, there was little difference in the probability of working nonstandard schedules by education. The most common type of shift for mothers (30%‒36%) and fathers (nearly 42%‒46%) was evening work. Mothers and fathers with NVQ4 or more (college degree or higher) were most likely to work regularly in the evening at all ages. Night working, the least common type of schedule, did not differ by education for both parents. Mothers and fathers with the least education were most likely to work weekend schedules at all ages.

Contribution: This article documents the pervasiveness of parental nonstandard employment, which has received little attention in the UK; finds that the education gradient in nonstandard work schedules is contingent on type of schedule; and critically incorporates information about fathers’ nonstandard schedules.

Author's Affiliation

Afshin Zilanawala - University of Nottingham, United Kingdom [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Race/ethnic inequalities in early adolescent development in the United Kingdom and United States
Volume 40 - Article 6

» Parental nonstandard work schedules during infancy and children’s BMI trajectories
Volume 37 - Article 22

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