Work and Breastfeeding Decisions are Jointly Determined for Higher Socioeconomic Status US Mothers
Review of Economics of the Households, 2012
Posted: 23 Jan 2016
Date Written: 2012
We study postpartum decisions about paid work and breastfeeding using a simultaneous equations model. For our sample of higher socioeconomic status mothers, we find a joint decision process for three sets of decisions modeled: work leave duration and duration of any, as well as of exclusive, breastfeeding, and daily work hours and daily breastfeedings at infant age 3 months. We find that returning to paid work 1 week earlier reduces any breastfeeding duration by about two-thirds of a week while extending breastfeeding by a week delays work participation by about one-third of a week. We find larger elasticities for decisions involving daily work hours and number of breastfeedings at 3 months than for work leave duration and any breastfeeding duration and the smallest elasticities for duration of exclusive breastfeeding and work leave. This marks the first study to find a joint decisionmaking process for postpartum work and breastfeeding decisions and suggests that, in addition to increased leave impacting breastfeeding behaviors, successful breastfeeding promotion policies can have nontrivial impacts on the US labor market.
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