The 24/7 economy and the health and wellbeing of family and children in Germany


We are witnessing an important transition from post-industrial economies to service economies, so called the "24/7 economy." A 24 hours/7 days economy demands services around the clock, and this has underpinned the rise in work schedules in evenings, nights, and weekends (so called “shift work” or “nonstandard work schedules”). This labour market trend has raised concerns about its possible impacts on families and children. Research in this field is limited and much of this work has been conducted in the US, with no study on this topic in Germany. This project aims to examine the potential impact of working nonstandard schedules on parents and children in Germany. Our broad research questions are: Do parents work nonstandard schedules more often than workers with no children in order to meet child care needs? Do such schedules have a negative impact on parental health, wellbeing, parenting behaviour, and union dissolution? Are there negative consequences for children’s physical and mental health and academic achievement? If so, what are the mediating factors? Does the impact differ by child and parent socio-demographic characteristics? These issues are critically important for social, economic and workplace policy, particularly in the context of increases in dual earner families in Germany. Social scientists have long been focusing on education, occupational status, employment, and income when investigating the health and wellbeing of adult workers and their families. Our project aims to examine a less-well understood dimension of social stratification and its impact on the wellbeing of family and children. This dimension is not the type of occupations and jobs parents engage themselves in nor unemployment, but it is when they participate in the labour market. The project will make an important contribution to our understanding of social inequality in the globalizing, service economy.



Upcoming workshop:

The New Economy and Challenges for Family Life

19-20 May 2016, WZB

We have entered into a new economy that is characterized by the intensive use of information and communication technologies which enable globalized production and distribution of goods and services. The new economy is also characterized by rising inequalities and a labour market polarization. This workshop aims to facilitate a scholarly exchange of research on challenges emanating from various aspects of the new economy for the wellbeing of family and children across nations. We hope that the workshop will also serve as a platform for the researchers to explore solutions to any theoretical and methodological issues and potential collaborations, with a view to advance this field of research. The specific research topics include, but are not limited to, the impact of parents’ nonstandard work schedules (shift work), long work hours, working multiple jobs, long commutes to work, and unemployment  on  parental and child wellbeing, divorce and separation, and gender division of labor. We particularly look forward to presentations that examine both mothers’ and fathers’ work hours and schedules, presentations that investigate mediating and moderating factors for the relationship between parental work and family and child wellbeing, and papers that reflect children’s own voices and views on how their parents’ work influences their life.

Main content

Ausgewählte Publikationen

Jianghong Li and Mathias Pollmann-Schult. Fathers' commute to work and children's social and emotional well-being in Germany. Journal of Family and Economic Issues (forthcoming).

Jianghong Li,Sarah Johnson,Wen-Jui Han, Sonia Andrews, Mike Dockery, Garth Kendall and Lyndall Strazdins. Parents’ nonstandard work and child wellbeing: A critical review of the literature. Journal of Primary Prevention 2014,35 (1): 53-73 (DOI: 10.1007/s10935-013-0318-z).

Sarah Johnson, Jianghong Li, Garth Kendall, Lyndall Strazdins, Peter Jacoby. Mothers’ and Fathers’ Work Hours, Child Gender and Behavior in Middle Childhood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 2013, 75: 56-74.

Jianghong Li, Therese O’Sullivan,Sarah Johnson, Fiona Stanley, Wendy Oddy. Maternal work hours in early to middle childhood link to later adolescent diet quality. Public Health Nutrition 2012, 15 (10): 1861-1870.

Mike Dockery, Jianghong Li, Garth Kendall. Parents work patterns and adolescent health and wellbeing. Social Science & Medicine 2009, 68:689-698.


Collaborative papers in progress:

Mike Dockery, Jianghong Li, and Garth Kendall:  Sole parenting and non-standard hours in Australia

Garth Kendall, Dawson Cooke, Mike Dockery, and Jianghong Li:  Psychological and social characteristics of fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) families during pregnancy in Western Australia.

Lyndall Strazdins, Jennifer Baxter, Jianghong Li:  Long hours and longings: Children’s views of Australian fathers’ work, time and work-family conflicts