Abstract: Exploring the Impact of Precarious Employment on Father's Depression, Parenting Stress, Parental Involvement, and Parenting Practices (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Exploring the Impact of Precarious Employment on Father's Depression, Parenting Stress, Parental Involvement, and Parenting Practices

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Desert Sky, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Annie Keeney, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Dianne Ciro, PhD, LCSW, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Stacy Dunkerley, PhD, Assistant Professor, San Diego State University, San Diego
Background and Purpose: Precarious workers are at an increased risk of depression and anxiety than workers with full or part-time employment. These adverse mental health conditions are prompted by inadequate earnings, stressful working conditions, and lack of job security. Despite being associated with independent entrepreneurship, self-employment is becoming more linked to a form of precarious work. Furthermore, depressive symptoms among low-income fathers can negatively impact their relationship with their children. This study aimed to understand the (1) associations between father's depression symptomology and precarious employment, parental involvement, parenting stressors, and disciplinary practices and (2) the differences in depression symptomology between father's employment types.

Methods: This analysis used data from the Parent and Children Together (PACT) Responsible Fatherhood (RF) Study. The sample included 1,058 fathers who completed a comprehensive survey focused on parenting, relationships, economic stability, and well-being. We measured father's depressive symptoms, our dependent variable, from the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-8) depression scale. We also constructed a binary variable to measure whether the father scored 10 or higher on the PHQ-8 to indicate if the father was at risk of high or moderate depression. Father's employment type was either a regular full or part-time employee, self-employed, temporary employee, or day laborer. The Parenting Stress Index Short Form measured parenting stress, and the Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale measured parenting practices. We measured parent involvement by time spent with the child over the past month. Four PACT-RF developed items measured nurturing behavior. Binomial logistic regression was performed to ascertain the effects of employment type, parenting stress, parental involvement, disciplinary practices (independent variables) on fathers’ depressive symptomology. One-way ANOVA was used to determine differences among fathers’ depression scores and employment type.

Results: Most fathers were Black (80%), an average age of 35 years old, and on average, a father to three children. We found that the father’s depression risk was significantly correlated with employment type (B=1.23, p=.028), parenting stress (B=.752, p=.001), parent involvement (B=1.14, p=.034), and nurturing behaviors (B=.769, p=.038). Using a one-way ANOVA, we found that depression scores significantly differed between father’s type of employment, Welch’s F (3, 5.8, p=.001). Depression scores increased from full/part-time employed (3.8 ± .1) to temporary employed (3.9 ± .4) to day laborers (4.8 ±- .5) to the self-employed group (5.0 ± .3). Games-Howell's post hoc analysis revealed that the increase in depression scores from full/part-time employment to self-employed, 1.2 (95% CI, .45 to 1.9), was statistically significant (p=.001).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that employment type can influence depressive symptomology. Specifically, our model indicated that self-employed fathers were 1.2 times more likely to have high or moderate depression. Given the known structural barriers Black men face to labor-market success, programs focused on helping fathers must consider how precarious work, in particular self-employment, could influence fathers' mental health and parenting practices. Targeted efforts to support self-employed fathers and reduce occupational stressors may be warranted to improve fatherhood engagement.