Work Matters: How Parents’ Jobs Shape Children’s Well-Being

Princeton Univ. Jun. 2022. 284p. ISBN 9780691174693. $24.95. CHILD REARING
Perry-Jenkins (psychology, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst) presents a multi-year study concerning work and American families, particularly “the transition of parenthood coupled with the second transition back to paid employment.” Beyond Perry-Jenkins’s psychology research, the book uses anecdotes from parents, as in the chapter “They Sure Don’t Make It Easy for Parents,” about adjusting to parenthood, worrying about family finances, and dealing with workplace matters, with frank discussion of income, educational attainment, and occupational status. Readers will come to understand the social issues at hand through the parents’ stories: parents without college degrees who end up at dead-end jobs; the ambiguities of social class as a category, in an era when “middle-class” covers a broad socioeconomic spectrum; workplaces where “flexibility” means something different to supervisors and workers. Perry-Jenkins’s book is scholarly but accessible, supported by many charts and endnotes.
VERDICT This empathetic study shows how hard it is for many Americans to raise families.
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