Early Child Development and Maternal Labor Force Participation: Using Handedness as an Instrument

27 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2008

See all articles by Paul Frijters

Paul Frijters

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance

David W. Johnston

Monash University

Manisha Shah

UCLA Department of Public Policy; NBER

Michael A. Shields

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

We estimate the effect of early child development on maternal labor force participation using data from teacher assessments. Mothers might react to having a poorly developing child by dropping out of the formal labor force in order to spend more time with their child, or they could potentially increase their labor supply to be able to provide the funds for better education and health resources. Which action dominates is therefore the empirical question we seek to answer in this paper. Importantly, we control for the potential endogeneity of child development by using an instrumental variables approach, uniquely exploiting exogenous variation in child development associated with child handedness. We find that having a poorly developing young child reduces the probability that a mother will participate in the labor market by about 25 percentage points.

Keywords: maternal labor force participation, child development, handedness

JEL Classification: J22, J13, C31

Suggested Citation

Frijters, Paul and Johnston, David W. and Shah, Manisha and Shields, Michael A., Early Child Development and Maternal Labor Force Participation: Using Handedness as an Instrument. , Vol. , pp. -, . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1145916 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Paul Frijters (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia
(07) 3864 9364 (Phone)
(07) 3864 1500 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.bus.qut.edu.au/paulfrijters/index.jsp

Manisha Shah

UCLA Department of Public Policy ( email )

Box 951656
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1656
United States

HOME PAGE: http://publicaffairs.ucla.edu/manisha-shah

NBER ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael A. Shields

University of Melbourne - Department of Economics ( email )

Victoria 3010, 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 4656 (Phone)
+61 3 8344 6899 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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