To read this content please select one of the options below:

Work–family conflict, sleep, and health: A comparison of traditional and self-employed workers

Erica L. Bettac (Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington, USA)
Tahira M. Probst (Department of Psychology, Washington State University Vancouver, Vancouver, Washington, USA)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 29 October 2019

Issue publication date: 11 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to examine how the experiences of work–family conflict (WFC) and health- and sleep-related outcomes differ among traditionally employed and two forms of self-employment (SE): incorporated and unincorporated workers. Moreover, to explore whether the rationale in one’s decision to enter SE might influence these experiences, the authors additionally examined work-family (WF)- and non-WF-related reasons behind an individual’s decision to pursue incorporated vs unincorporated SE status.


Using anonymous Mechanical Turk survey data from a high-quality US adult worker sample (n=711; 62 percent male, age M=33.94) consisting of traditionally (78 percent) and self-employed individuals, the authors conducted an analysis of covariance to test hypotheses regarding the relationships between employment status, reasons for pursuing SE, WFC, sleep disturbance, sleep hours and physical health complaints.


Results showed WFC was positively related to sleep disturbances and physical health complaints and this relationship was exacerbated for self-employed workers, particularly those who were incorporated. Unincorporated self-employed individuals indicated more WF-balance-related reasons for pursuing SE compared to incorporated workers. Moreover, individuals who pursued SE for WF-balance reasons tended to report fewer negative reactions to WFC.

Practical implications

SE is associated with more negative sleep and health-related outcomes in response to WFC. This is particularly true for incorporated workers. Individuals should bear in mind these outcomes when considering whether to pursue SE. Moreover, governmental policies, and calls for change in such policies, should not only address financially related detriments (e.g. higher taxes, fewer benefits and protections) but also increasing support and providing resources (e.g. health insurance, family leave and entrepreneurial workplace initiatives) regarding the work/family and health-related impairments common for this growing, independent portion of the workforce.


This is the first study to examine WF-related rationales for pursuing SE and differing sleep and health outcomes in response to WFC as a function of SE status and type.



Bettac, E.L. and Probst, T.M. (2021), "Work–family conflict, sleep, and health: A comparison of traditional and self-employed workers", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 240-259.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles