Question of the Month
From the Catherwood Library reference librarians
PLEASE NOTE: The Reference Question of the Month is kept current only during the month for which it was written. Archived questions will not be updated, and over time may contain inaccurate information or broken web links. We provide archived questions as a service, since much of the information will remain accurate and of continued interest to the ILR community.
Question: Where can I find online resources for research on work-life balance issues? I'm particularly interested in U.S. surveys.
Answer: Over the past two decades there has been increased interest in the issue of work and family life balance. Academic Institutions, businesses, and public organizations are studying the challenges working families face and have developed insights into how to assist working families in balancing their time and responsibilities.
The resources listed below were developed for the online researcher focusing on work life balance issues in the United States. The resources are listed by:
- Academic Institutions
- Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Centers
- Not-for-profit, Professional and Other
- Data and Statistics
- Surveys and Studies
Boston College Center for Work & Family
The Center is a research organization associated with the Carroll School of Management, devoted to the study of work-life issues in partnership with other equally committed organizations. Visitors can learn about their research projects, publications, work/life certificate program, and their Work & Family Roundtable--a membership organization of 50 employers committed to excellence in the area of work/life.
Center for Families, Purdue University
Site includes research and materials on work-life balance designed for employers in the mid-west.
Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons College Graduate School of Management
The Center is part of the Simmons College Graduate School of Management, and aims to be a major catalyst for change in enhancing equity and effectiveness in organizations in both the profit and non-profit sectors worldwide. The Center publishes a series of briefing papers that are available online.
Children, Youth, and Family Consortium, University of Minnesota
The Consortium brings together and integrates the knowledge and resources of the University of Minnesota with those of the community for the well being of children, youth and families. Their site features an Electronic Clearing House that includes Work-Family-Life Interactions - an extensive collection of information, research and opinion on work and family issues.
CYFERNet is a national network of Land Grant University faculty and County Extension educators working to support community-based educational programs for children, youth, parents and families. Site features a number of reports and publications on work/life issues that can be downloaded.
Institute for Women and Work (IWW), School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University
The IWW is an applied research and educational resource center, which provides a forum for examining and evaluating the forces that affect women and work. Visitors can view and download research results, working papers, and other publications.
Kunz Center for the Study of Work & Family (KCSWF), Department of Sociology, University of Cincinnati
The KCSWF conducts research and other programs on work, the family and issues of interdependence between work and family. This website contains academic research, some of the work of the Center, book reviews, and latest statistics on work and family. It also has a bulletin board with announcements of upcoming lectures and newly published books.
Labor Project for Working Families, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley
The Labor Project for Working Families is a national advocacy and policy center providing technical assistance, resources and education to unions and union members addressing family issues in the workplace. The site features the Family Fact Sheet Series, an informational resource on 5 state laws, designed to help Californians balance work and family. They also publish an online quarterly newsletter on union and work/family issues and visitors can download reports from their Changing Work in America Series, including Work, Family and the Labor Movement. The Labor Project for Working Families also maintains the nation's only database of information and contract language on labor and work/family issues and visitors can view a sampling of some of the best contract language.
Labor Resource Center, University of Massachusetts
The Center advocates for economic and social justice for working families. Their site links to the Family Leave Report, Filling the Work and Family Gap: Paid Parental Leave in Massachusetts, which includes a section that examines parental leave in other states.
National Center on Women and Aging, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University
The Center focuses national attention on the special concerns of women as they age, to develop solutions and strategies for dealing with these concerns, and to reach out to women and organizations across the country, promoting the changes necessary to improve older women's lives. The Center has conducted research in collaboration with the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) to examine the opportunity costs of caregiving among midlife and older women, the results of the research were published in The MetLife Juggling Act Study: Balancing Work and Caregiving and the Costs Involved. A press release of the Report is available online or visitors can request a free copy by email.
Project on Global Working Families, Harvard School of Public Health
The Project on Global Working Families is one of the first to document the experience of working families globally, across social class, in developing as well as industrialized economies. Site includes information on their domestic and international research, along with information on their data sources.
Radcliffe Public Policy Center (RPPC), Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
The RPPC creates new ways of thinking about important economic, social, and political issues--both nationally and around the world. Site features several research projects and publications available for download on work and life issues.
Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College
The Wellesley Centers for Women is home to more than 40 individual research, education and action projects. Some are short-term, specifically focused investigations. Others are part of larger, long-term initiatives addressing critical areas in the lives of women and girls. Visitors to their site can browse their work & family programs.
Work-Family-Life Interactions, Children, Youth and Family Consortium, University of Minnesota
A collection of information, research and opinion on work and family issues. Work-Family-Life Interactions aims to provide parents, employers and employees with ongoing electronic access to the information resources that assist in the balancing and integrating work and personal lives. Site features an extensive bibliography on work and family issues.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program on Dual-Career Middle-Class Working Families created and funds five academic Centers on Working Families:
Center for the Ethnography of Everyday Life (CEEL), University of Michigan
The CEEL is devoted to the study of working families in the United States. They are the first center organized around using the approaches of Cultural Anthropologists in the study of work/life balance issues. Site features a listing of research papers that can be downloaded.
Center on Parents, Children and Work, University of Chicago
Supported by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, with additional funding from The University of Chicago and National Opinion Research Center (NORC), the Center seeks to examine how working families make investments in time and resources, how these choices are made, the effects these investments have on the quality of relationships in the household, and the resulting socialization of school-age children and adolescents. Visitors can access their online newsletter.
Center on Myth and Ritual in American Life (MARIAL), Emory University
MARIAL focuses its research on the functions and significance of ritual and myth in dual wage-earner middle-class families in the American South. The Centers working papers and publications are available online.
Cornell Employment and Family Careers Institute, Cornell University
The Cornell Employment and Family Careers Institutes' mission is to conduct research, education, and outreach that promotes understanding of the dramatic changes in two fundamental social institutions--families and work--and their intersections throughout the life course. The Cornell Couples and Careers Study's latest report is available online, along with fact sheets and other project reports. Free copies of their latest working papers can be requested.
Also from the Sloan Foundation:
The Work-Family Researchers Electronic Network
The site features an extensive literature database of approximately 2,800 entries which provides bibliographic information and annotations for selected articles, books, chapters in books, reports, and papers that present information about work and family research.
Alliance of Work/Life Professionals
The Alliance of Work/Life Professionals is a membership organization for professionals who work in business, academia, or at the public sector to promote a healthier balance between work and personal life. Its efforts unite, support and provide strategic direction in the promotion of work/life balance through thought leadership, enhancing connections and providing access to cutting-edge resources and information.
Catalyst is a nonprofit research and advisory organization working to advance women in business and the professions. Their site includes research studies on work-life balance.
Families and Work Institute (FWI)
Families and Work Institute (FWI) is a non-profit center for research that provides data to inform decision-making on the changing workplace, changing family and changing community. Site includes a link to their Families and Work Institute, which conducts work life research. Publications include a National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), which is conducted every five years and provides extensive information about workers' work and family situations. A companion document to the NSCW is the Business Work-Life Study (BWLS), which investigates how US employers are responding to work-life needs.
Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR)
IWPR is a public policy research organization dedicated to informing and stimulating the debate on public policy issues of critical importance to women and their families. Site provides information on their work and family research and a listing of reports, which can be downloaded.
National Report on Work & Family
A commercial reporting service; The National Report on Work & Family reports on how leading companies are implementing family-friendly, initiatives from the White House and Congress that will encourage employers to provide work/life programs, and about rules and court decisions that will change what employers must do with regard to the Family and Medical Leave Act and other work-life programs.
National Partnership for Women & Families
The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses public education and advocacy to promote fairness in the workplace, quality health care, and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family. Site links to their Work & Family Program and visitors can download their publications.
New England Work & Family Association (NEWFA)
The NEWFA helps employers understand and address the complex work/life challenges facing today's workforce. They provide a forum and resource base for organizations in any phase of work/life planning and policy development. Site includes a listing of member companies and a practitioner database.
Strengthening the Family Initiative, Women's Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor
The Women's Bureau's "Strengthening the Family Agenda" includes researching the benefits of using compensatory time to support the balance of work and family life. Site includes publications and statistics.
Work & Family Connection Site
A worldwide clearinghouse for work-life professionals. Site includes the latest news, FAQ's, conferences, and tips. They also feature a listing of important work and family studies.
Work In America Institute
Work In America Institute's mission is to advance productivity and the quality of working life through the principles of sound human resource practices which are applicable in all industries. Their site features a member information search and a listing of their action research projects.
WorkFam: The Work/FamilyNewsgroup
An online discussion forum about work/family issues.
Economic Policy Institute
The Economic Policy Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to broaden the public debate about strategies to achieve a prosperous and fair economy. Site includes "The DataZone" with national data from The State of Working America 2000-01, state and regional data, the Quarterly Wage and Employment Series - a current, detailed analysis of wage and employment trends in the Current Populations Survey, and online supplemental tables.
National Compensation Survey - Benefits, Bureau of Labor Statistic, US Department of Labor
Produces comprehensive data on the incidence (the percentage of workers with access to and participation in employer provided benefit plans) and provision of selected employee benefit plans.
Project on Global Working Families, Harvard School of Public Health
The Project on Global Working Families provides information on their research, including a list of their data sources with related links.
Women's Bureau (WB) -- Statistics & Data, U.S. Department of Labor
Site features statistics on Women's Jobs, leading occupations, nontraditional occupations, and median annual earnings.
We also recommend the following guide by Stuart M. Basefsky, Information Specialist, Catherwood Library, Most Requested Statistics By U.S. Agency. The guide provides a listing of the agencies in the U.S. government that publish the most requested statistics related to the field of Industrial and Labor Relations.
2001 A "Best Practices" Study, Women in Cable & Telecommunications Foundation
Study found companies with major investments in work-life programs have higher retention, lower turnover, and are able to attract a more diverse workforce. The survey focused on the responses of the ten companies that reported the greatest gender diversity, with 50% or more female employees.
2001 Benefits Survey, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
A study conducted by the SHRM, which deals with policies that affect personal lives. A membership is required to download the survey.
2001 Career Survey of Work/Life Professionals
The survey was conducted by the Alliance of Work/Life Professionals, sponsored by a grant from Work/Life Today, a publication of the National Institute of Business Management. Study looked at the nature of respondents jobs, organizations, experiences, importance of work life programs to their organizations, benefits from the programs, publications and other resources used, and the challenges the respondents faced as professionals in the field.
Ask a Working Women, AFL-CIO
Site provides information on the AFL-CIO's telephone survey of working women around the country. The survey asked questions about work/life balance, time, pay and benefits.
Business Work-Life Study (BWLS) - Investigating how US employers are responding to work-life needs
As a companion to the National Study of the Changing Workforce, in 1998, Families and Work Institute surveyed a large nationally representative sample of US employers with 100 or more employees to investigate how employers are responding to the work-life needs of their employees.
Evaluation of Work-Life Efforts
In 1997, Work & Family Connection, together with Whirlpool Foundation and Working Mother Magazine, conducted the a survey to find out how representative companies have been evaluating their work-life programs and practices, what they feel they've learned, and their priorities for evaluation in the future. Respondents from 153 companies reported on their evaluations of 40 different programs, policies and practices.
Keeping Jobs and Raising Families in Low-Income America: It Just Doesn't Work, Radcliffe Public Policy Center
A two-year, multi-tiered study of the work and family conflicts that confront low-income working parents. Conducted by the Public Policy Center and 9to5 National Association of Working Women.
Life's Work: Generational Attitudes toward Work and Life Integration, Radcliffe Public Policy Center
Reports on the results of a national survey of Americans' attitudes about work and family, economic security, workplace technology, and career development.
National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), Families and Work Institute
Every five years, the Families and Work Institute (FWI) conducts the NSCW, surveying large representative samples of currently employed U.S. workers. The NSCW provides valuable information on many facets of both the work lives and family lives of the US workforce. Because it is the only large study of its kind since the U. S. Department of Labor's 1977 Quality of Employment Survey (QES), the NSCW offers useful information to employers, employees, policy-makers, researchers, and members of the media.
Work & Family Connection Site
The site is a worldwide clearinghouse for work-life professionals. They feature a listing of important studies done in the last decade. The studies are summarized and some include links.