Family Duties and Job Flexibility: Tradeoffs for Chinese Urban, Educated Mothers with Toddlers

Sungwon Kim, Cong Zhang, Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Vanessa L. Fong, Niobe Way, Xinyin Chen, Xiaoyan Ke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing on survey and interview data from mothers of 14-month infants in Nanjing, China, we explore women's job trajectories as they juggle work and family responsibilities. Four profiles that emerge among our sample of 371 mothers (high stability, rapid cyclers, high-paid wage-growth, and intermittent) reflected not only their work career trajectories but also their different strategies of managing work-family balance. High-stability mothers were more likely than the other three groups to work in state-owned enterprises and experience a negative work climate. They illustrate how China's changing economy shape work preferences of mothers who value interest and self-fulfillment, but pursue stability to accommodate their childrearing responsibilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-47
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Comparative Family Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
As explored above, these four groups of mothers presented distinct experiences of job trajectories and parenthood-work balance. While high-stability mothers opted for high stability and low stress work that would best fulfill their childcare needs, intermittent mothers managed parenting and career goals by taking breaks between jobs. Rapid-cycler mothers’ pursuit of interest and frequent job transitions were largely supported by their husbands’ high stability and low stress employment, and high-paid wage-growth mothers’ career advancement was made possible by grandparents’ and nannies’ intensive childcare support.

Publisher Copyright:
© Journal of Comparative Family Studies.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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