Date of Award

Winter 2014

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Rebecca K Glauber

Second Advisor

Heather A Turner

Third Advisor

Karen T Van Gundy


An extensive sociological literature links women's health, their children's health, and their disproportionate designation as unpaid caregivers to variation in women's labor supply and earnings. However, there is a dearth of research that simultaneously considers the health of multiple family members to explore how the distribution of chronic conditions within and across families may relate to women's work. Using data from the 2007 Panel Study of Income Dynamics (and its supplemental surveys, the Child Development Supplement and the Transition into Adulthood Study), this dissertation conceptualizes health as a family-level construct and explores how the distribution of chronic conditions in families relates to women's employment, hours, and earnings, with particular attention to disparities by women's educational attainment. I note substantial variation in the distribution of illness across families, and find that the relationship between health and women's employment is complex, with relationships that are diagnostically specific, vary by employment outcome, and stratified by women's characteristics, with particular impacts for women who are nonwhite, less educated, or who have more illnesses in their families. This research emphasizes the importance of multidimensional examinations of health, and the utility in considering the broader family context in which women's employment outcomes unfold.