Early Maternal Employment and Family Wellbeing

48 Pages Posted: 14 Jul 2011 Last revised: 14 Jul 2021

See all articles by Pinka Chatterji

Pinka Chatterji

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sara Markowitz

Emory University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Columbia University - Teachers' College

Date Written: July 2011

Abstract

This study uses longitudinal data from the NICHD Study on Early Child Care (SECC) to examine the effects of maternal employment on family well-being, measured by maternal mental and overall health, parenting stress, and parenting quality. First, we estimate the effects of maternal employment on these outcomes measured when children are 6 months old. Next, we use dynamic panel data models to examine the effects of maternal employment on family outcomes during the first 4.5 years of children's lives. Among mothers of six month old infants, maternal work hours are positively associated with depressive symptoms and self-reported parenting stress, and negatively associated with self-rated overall health among mothers. Compared to mothers who are on leave 3 months after childbirth, mothers who are working full-time score 22 percent higher on the CES-D scale of depressive symptoms. However, maternal employment is not associated with the quality of parenting at 6 months, based on trained assessors' observations of maternal sensitivity. Moreover, during the first 4.5 years of life as a whole, we find only weak evidence that maternal work hours are associated with maternal health, and no evidence that maternal employment is associated with parenting stress and quality. We find that unobserved heterogeneity is an important factor in modeling family outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Chatterji, Pinka and Markowitz, Sara and Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne, Early Maternal Employment and Family Wellbeing (July 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17212, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1885319

Pinka Chatterji (Contact Author)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Sara Markowitz

Emory University ( email )

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Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

Columbia University - Teachers' College ( email )

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New York, NY 10027
United States

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