Online Data Archive

Wisconsin Study of Families and Work 1990-2012

Principal Investigators: Janet Shibley Hyde and Marilyn J. Essex

The Wisconsin Study of Families and Work (WSFW) originally began in 1990 as the Wisconsin Maternity Leave and Health (WMLH) Project. It is a longitudinal study and families were followed through 2012. The study first focused on maternity leave and women balancing work and family. As the children grew older, the WSFW focused on how early factors in children’s lives, such as child temperament and family emotional climate, contribute to teens’ later mental health, school performance, and peer relations. Roughly 300 families remained in the study for 20 years, when data collection was discontinued. WMLH was first conceived to focus on issues of maternity leave and the health (mental, physical, and social) of women and their families from pregnancy through 12 months postpartum. The first five waves of data collection were: Time 1 (T1), 5th month of pregnancy; T2, 1 month postpartum; T3, 4 months postpartum; T4, 12 months postpartum; and T5, 2 years postpartum. Phase II of the project began in 1994 and it continued to study how parents balance work and family. As the children in the study grew, the study became a project on child development through preschool and the transition to elementary school. Four assessments were conducted: T6, child age 3.5 years; T7, child age 4.5 years; T8, kindergarten; and T9, first grade. The project continued with assessments at T10, 3rd grade and T11, 5th grade. The project continued in the developmentally important adolescent years. Assessments were conducted at T12, age 13; T13, age 15; T14, age 16; T15, age 17; T16, age 18; and T17 & T18, age 20. Many of the same measures were continued from earlier phases, and new measures were included to assess life events, stressors, and other factors that have an impact on adolescents’ mood and behavior. Parents’ and adolescents’ attitudes about mathematics and science were studied as well. Three additional projects were conducted during the adolescent phase of the project: the Moms & Math Project, a Study of Adolescent Brain Development, and the Utility Value Project.

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