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Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development

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  • Christopher J. Ruhm

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between parental employment and child cognitive development using data from multiple years of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Maternal labor supply during the first three years of the child's life is predicted to have a small negative effect on the verbal ability of 3 and 4 year olds and a substantial detrimental impact on the reading and math achievement of 5 and 6 year olds. Working during the second and third years appears to have less favorable or more deleterious consequences when the mother is also employed in the first year. The results are robust to the inclusion of controls for day care arrangements or paternal job-holding and there is some indication that early employment may be particularly costly for children in traditional' two-parent families. Finally, the data suggest that paternal and maternal employment have qualitatively similar effects, hinting at the importance of time investments by fathers. The overall conclusion is that previous research may have provided an overly optimistic assessment of the effects of parental employment on child cognitive development.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7666.

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Date of creation: Apr 2000
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Publication status: published as Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7666

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  1. Francine D. Blau & Adam J. Grossberg, 1990. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 3536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stafford, Frank P, 1987. "Women's Work, Sibling Competition, and Children's School Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 972-80, December.
  3. Juster, F Thomas & Stafford, Frank P, 1991. "The Allocation of Time: Empirical Findings, Behavioral Models, and Problems of Measurement," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(2), pages 471-522, June.
  4. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1999. "Early Test Scores, Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Jacob Alex Klerman & Arleen Leibowitz, 1994. "The Work-Employment Distinction among New Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 277-303.
  6. James J. Heckman, 1999. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 7288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Currie, Janet & Thomas, Duncan, 1995. "Does Head Start Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 341-64, June.
  8. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 1999. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," NBER Working Papers 7363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David M. Blau & David K. Guilkey & Barry M. Popkin, 1996. "Infant Health and the Labor Supply of Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 90-139.
  10. Sonalde Desai & P. L. Chase-Lansdale & Robert Michael, . "Mother or Market? Effects of Maternal Employment on Cognitive Development of Four-year-old Children," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 88-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  11. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  12. Lazear, Edward P. & Michael, Robert T., 1988. "Allocation of Income within the Household," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226469669.
  13. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
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