Mechanisms for the Association between Maternal Employment and Child Cognitive Development

25 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2007 Last revised: 9 Sep 2021

See all articles by John Cawley

John Cawley

Cornell University - College of Human Ecology, Department of Policy Analysis & Management (PAM); Cornell University - College of Arts & Sciences, Department of Economics; Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Erasmus School of Economics (ESE); National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) - J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics; NBER; IZA

Feng Liu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics; The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Date Written: November 2007

Abstract

Recent research has found that maternal employment is associated with worse child performance on tests of cognitive ability. This paper explores mechanisms for that correlation. We estimate models of instrumental variables using a unique dataset, the American Time Use Survey, that measure the effect of maternal employment on the mother's allocation of time to activities related to child cognitive development. We find that employed women spend significantly less time reading to their children, helping with homework, and in educational activities in general. We find no evidence that these decreases in time are offset by increases in time by husbands and partners. These findings offer plausible mechanisms for the association of maternal employment with child cognitive development.

Suggested Citation

Cawley, John and Liu, Feng, Mechanisms for the Association between Maternal Employment and Child Cognitive Development (November 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13609, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1032864

John Cawley (Contact Author)

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Feng Liu

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

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