Unconditional Cash Transfers and Maternal Employment: Evidence from the Baby's First Years Study
32 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2022
Date Written: November 30, 2022
How the labor force participation of mothers of young children responds to unconditioned cash support remains an open question in policy debates. Using data from Baby’s First Years, a large-scale randomized controlled study, we generate new estimates of the impact of an unconditional monthly cash transfer on maternal employment behavior through a child’s first three years of development. We find no overall statistically detectable differences in whether mothers participated in the paid workforce or in overall household earnings. Receipt of the cash transfer appears to have reduced hours of maternal work during the height of the pandemic in 2020-21.
Funding Declaration: Annie E. Casey Foundation; Arrow Impact; BCBS of Louisiana Foundation; Bezos Family Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Bill Hammack and Janice Parmelee, Brady Education Fund; Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (Silicon Valley Community Foundation); Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies; Child Welfare Fund; Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund; Ford Foundation; Greater New Orleans Foundation; Heising-Simons Foundation; Jacobs Foundation; JPB Foundation; J-PAL North America; New York City Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity; Perigee Fund; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Sherwood Foundation; Valhalla Foundation; Weitz Family Foundation; W.K. Kellogg Foundation; and three anonymous donors. Baby’s First Years’ datasets are available on the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) repository (Magnuson et al. 2022).
Conflict of Interests: The authors declare no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper.
Ethics Approval: This project received IRB approval from the University of California-Irvine (IRB Approval Number: 2016-3336) and from Teachers College, Columbia University (IRB Approval Number: 18-210). Upon consent, mothers were randomized to receive a monthly unconditional cash gift of either $333 or $20, starting at their child’s birth, for a duration of 40 months (subsequently extended to 76 months).
Trial Registration: The study was pre-registered in the AEA RCT Registry, with unique identification number AEARCTR-0003262.
Keywords: cash transfers, experiment, maternal employment
JEL Classification: H31, I30, J13, J18, J22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation