Work-family conflict: differences across generations and life cycles

Misty M. Bennett, Terry A. Beehr, Lana V. Ivanitskaya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine work-to-family conflict and family-to-work conflict, taking into account generational cohort and life cycle stage differences. Design/methodology/approach: Survey participants (428 employed individuals with families) represented different generations and life cycles. Key variables were work/family characteristics and centrality, work-family and family-work conflict, and age. Findings: Generational differences in both directions were found. Gen X-ers reported the most work-family conflict, followed by Millennials and then Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers exhibited family-work conflict the most, followed by Gen X-ers, and then Millennials, a surprising finding given generational stereotypes. Some of these differences remained after controlling for children in the household (based on life cycle stage theory) and age. Millennials were highest in work centrality, whereas Baby Boomers were highest in family centrality. Employees with children ages 13-18 reported the most work-family conflict, and employees with children under the age of six reported the most family-work conflict. Research limitations/implications: This study found that generation and children in the household make a difference in work-family conflict, but it did not support some of the common generational stereotypes. Future studies should use a time-lag technique to study generational differences. To reduce work-family conflict, it is important to consider its directionality, which varies across generations and life cycle stages. Practical implications: This informs organizations on how to tailor interventions to help employees balance work/life demands. Originality/value: This study is the first to simultaneously examine both generation and life cycle stage (children in the household) in regard to work-family conflict.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-332
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Family-work conflict
  • Generational differences
  • Life cycle stages
  • Work-family conflict
  • Work-life issues


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