Work-family life courses and metabolic markers in mid-life: evidence from the British National Child Development Study

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2016


Background: Previous studies have found generally better health among those who combine employment and family responsibilities; however, most research excludes men, and relies on subjective measures of health and information on work and family activities from only 1 or 2 time points in the life course. This study investigated associations between work-family life course types (LCTs) and markers of metabolic risk in a British birth cohort study.
Methods: Multichannel sequence analysis was used to generate work-family LCTs, combining annual information on work, partnership and parenthood between 16 and 42 years for men and women in the British National Child Development Study (NCDS, followed since their birth in 1958). Associations between work-family LCTs and metabolic risk factors in mid-life (age 44–45) were tested using multivariate linear regression in multiply imputed data.
Results: Life courses characterised by earlier transitions into parenthood were associated with significantly increased metabolic risk, regardless of attachment to paid work or marital stability over the life course. These associations were only partially attenuated by educational qualifications, early life circumstances and adult mediators. The positive association between weak labour markets ties and metabolic risk was weaker than might be expected from previous studies. Associations between work-family LCTs and metabolic risk factors did not differ significantly by gender.
Conclusions: Earlier transitions to parenthood are linked to metabolic risk in mid-life.

Published in

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 70 , p.481 -487






Open Access article

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:



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