Constrained choices? Linking employees' and spouses' work time to health behaviors

Fan, Wen, Lam, Jack, Moen, Phyllis, Kelly, Erin, King, Rosalind and McHale, Susan (2015) Constrained choices? Linking employees' and spouses' work time to health behaviors. Social Science and Medicine, 126 99-109. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.12.015

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Author Fan, Wen
Lam, Jack
Moen, Phyllis
Kelly, Erin
King, Rosalind
McHale, Susan
Title Constrained choices? Linking employees' and spouses' work time to health behaviors
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1873-5347
Publication date 2015-02-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.12.015
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 126
Start page 99
End page 109
Total pages 11
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Abstract There are extensive literatures on work conditions and health and on family contexts and health, but less research asking how a spouse or partners' work conditions may affect health behaviors. Drawing on the constrained choices framework, we theorized health behaviors as a product of one's own time and spouses' work time as well as gender expectations. We examined fast food consumption and exercise behaviors using survey data from 429 employees in an Information Technology (IT) division of a U.S. Fortune 500 firm and from their spouses. We found fast food consumption is affected by men's work hours—both male employees' own work hours and the hours worked by husbands of women respondents—in a nonlinear way. The groups most likely to eat fast food are men working 50 h/week and women whose husbands work 45–50 h/week. Second, exercise is better explained if work time is conceptualized at the couple, rather than individual, level. In particular, neo-traditional arrangements (where husbands work longer than their wives) constrain women's ability to engage in exercise but increase odds of men exercising. Women in couples where both partners are working long hours have the highest odds of exercise. In addition, women working long hours with high schedule control are more apt to exercise and men working long hours whose wives have high schedule flexibility are as well. Our findings suggest different health behaviors may have distinct antecedents but gendered work-family expectations shape time allocations in ways that promote men's and constrain women's health behaviors. They also suggest the need to expand the constrained choices framework to recognize that long hours may encourage exercise if both partners are looking to sustain long work hours and that work resources, specifically schedule control, of one partner may expand the choices of the other.
Keyword US
Fast food consumption
Work hours
Constrained choices
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID U01 HD051256
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 6 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 9 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 28 Sep 2015, 23:00:23 EST by Jack Lam on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service