Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Lorraine Davies


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the relationships between family structure, employment patterns, and mental health among mothers using the life course perspective. The Single Parent Family Data Set conducted in London, Ontario, Canada by Avison et al. (2008) is used for this research. The sample consists of 349 single mothers and 430 married mothers. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) is used as a measure of psychological distress. This thesis reveals significant differences in levels of psychological distress by family structure trajectory. In addition, the employment patterns of single mothers are more likely to be characterized by discontinuity and financial strain, compared to stably partnered mothers. Finally, multivariate analysis reveals that employment patterns, socioeconomic characteristics, and work-family demand variables explain family structure trajectory differences in psychological distress.