Previous decades of research on work and organizational psychology revealed, that job insecurity is one of the most stable and important work stressors in the ever-changing environment of today’s work (Mauno, Leskinen et al., 2001). A recent European study showed that 13 % of the employees are worried about losing their job within the next 6 months (Parent-Thirion, Marcías et al., 2007). In addition, around 40% of employed parents report to experience a conflict between work and family at some time point (Galinsky, Bond, & Friedman, 1993). Those numbers give rise to the question if and how job insecurity is related to work-family conflict.
Previous research has documented that job insecurity is associated with major negative consequences for organizational attitudes and work-related behaviors (Sverke et al., 2002, Sverke et al., 2004). However, not much research has been done on family related consequences of job insecurity. Still, some empirical results can be found, but no conclusion regarding to the direction of the relationship can be drawn from these, as cross-sectional data was used in most cases.
Job insecurity has been cross-sectionally linked to work-family conflict as a potential predictor. Antecedents of work-family conflict are primarily job related, such as job demands including job insecurity (Westman, Etzion, & Danon, 2001; Wilson, Larson, & Stone, 1993). For example, Voydanoff (2004) suggested job insecurity, as a strain-based work demand, being a potential predictor of work-family conflict. One study showed that the wife’s psychological strain increases with the husband’s job insecurity (Barling & Mendelson, 1999). Parents’ job insecurity has been associated with their children’s lower grades at school (Allen, Herst, Bruck, & Sutton, 2000) due to the parent’s negative mood and belief in an unjust world. Alternatively, work-family conflict can be an antecedent condition of job insecurity. Meta-analytical results associated negative work-related consequences with work-family conflict (Frone, Russell, & Cooper, 1992; Kinnunen & Mauno, 1998).
Due to these inconclusive findings, this study aims to investigate the causal relations between job insecurity and work-family conflict using a longitudinal data set with a time lag of one year. Cross-lagged models were used to investigate the nature of the association. As one year of time lag is quiet long if we are talking about an effect from either job insecurity to work-family conflict or the other way round, we also considered testing a mediation model, with work load as a mediating factor between job insecurity and work-family conflict.
Our results indicate that there was a difference for men and women in the cross-lagged effects. While we did not find any effects from or to job insecurity by work-family conflict for women, we found that for men there was a small reciprocal effect between job insecurity and work-family conflict. Our mediation analysis indicated that work load functioned as a mediating factor between job insecurity and work-family conflict for men only.