For Immediate Release

September 9, 2008

New York, NY – The Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) is pleased to announce that Dr. Wen-jui Han, Associate Professor of Social Work, has been awarded tenure by Columbia University. Dr. Han is a nationally recognized scholar whose research on child care, maternal employment, and child well-being has had strong implications for national public policy.

Dr. Han’s early research focused on examining the differences between single-mother and married-mother families.  Her studies have found that the negative effects of child care costs on women’s labor market activity are substantially larger for unmarried mothers than for married mothers.  Unmarried mothers are more likely to be in low-income families; to the extent that such mothers are particularly sensitive to the price-related dimensions of child care, they may be less likely to find affordable and high-quality child care and hence less likely to return to work following childbirth, particularly given the work requirements on mothers with young children after the 1996 welfare reform.  In addition to conducting research on the impact of the 1996 welfare reform law on low-income single mothers’ economic well-being in New York, she has also examined inter-generational transfers and its impact of families’ resource allocation on children’s educational outcomes in an international perspective. 

More recently, Dr. Han’s research is focused on studying the effects of first-year maternal employment on children’s later cognitive and behavioral outcomes.  Her research on examining the relationship between parental work schedules and child well-being is considered the first of its kind in the nation to examine the important question of how mothers’ work schedules affect children’s outcomes.  Her research revealed that changes in mothers’ work schedules were accompanied by changes in child care arrangements.  In particular, a higher percentage of families in which the mother changed to working nonstandard hours switched to father care, and a higher percentage of families in which the mother changed to working standard hours switched to center care. The results from this research shed new light on how parents moving into or out of nonstandard work schedules alter children’s care arrangements.

Dr. Han’s work in this area also shows that both the timing and duration of maternal nonstandard work schedules were important to children’s later well-being. Specifically, nonstandard schedules tended to have negative effects on young children’s cognitive and language development at age 2 and 3, particularly if they began in the first year of life. Her analyses suggested that these negative effects were probably due to the type of child care used. Dr. Han’s findings were published in the journal Child Development and received a great deal of attention among scholars, the public, and the news media.
She is currently working on research that will disentangle the ways that familial and social factors intersect in shaping the experiences of immigrant families, with particular emphasis on children. 

Dr. Han’s work has been published in leading academic journals including Child Development, Demography, Developmental Psychology, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Adolescence, and Social Services Review. She is also the recipient of numerous awards for her innovative, impactful research.  Dr. Han was designated as one of four recognized scholars by the Foundation for Child Development for her research on children in immigrant families, received (along with Columbia University School of Social Work Professor Jane Waldfogel) the Society for Social Work Research’s Best Scholarly Contribution Award for excellence in research, and was nominated for the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.

For more information, please contact Jeannie Hii at jy2223@columbia.edu or 212-851-2327.

Leave a Reply