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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

The experience of work-life balance across family-life stages in Switzerland: a cross-sectional questionnaire-based study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Ariane G. Wepfer, Rebecca Brauchli, Gregor J. Jenny, Oliver Hämmig, Georg F. Bauer
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

AW drafted the paper and analyzed the data. OH and GB were responsible for the funding of the study. OH was responsible for data collection. RB and GJ as the daily supervisors of the PhD project this study was part of were in charge of the realization and the conception of the study and actively supervised the writing of the paper and the statistical analyses. RB wrote parts of the background section as well as of the discussion and conclusion, read and approved the final manuscript. GJ, OH and GB as senior researchers made significant contributions to the discussion and interpretation of the results, read and approved the final manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The division of paid and unpaid labor in families continues to be highly gendered with men doing more paid work and women doing more unpaid care work. This is especially true for life stages with young children. Our study investigates the subjective experience of demands in the work and the private domain and the experience of work-life balance across family-life stages as a consequence of this gendered division of labor.


We used data from a survey study on work-life issues and health in four large companies in Switzerland (N = 3664).


In line with our hypotheses, subjective work and private demands were predicted by an interaction of family-life stages and gender. Specifically, during the primary child-rearing family-life stages, women experience more private demands than men while men experience more work demands, regardless of level of employment. Furthermore, women who work part time experience more work-life balance than women who work full time and more than men who work part or full time during the primary child-rearing family-life stages.


Results are discussed in terms of a gendered work-life experience across the life course and the need for part-time work for both genders. Finally, conclusions are drawn concerning our results’ implications for public health considerations.
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