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Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?

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  • Pinka Chatterji
  • Kevin Frick

Abstract

Although the Surgeon General recently highlighted breastfeeding as '......one of the most important contributors to infant health,' few health economics studies based in developed countries have considered breastfeeding as an important health behavior that can be influenced by labor market decisions and by public policies. This study examines the effect of the timing and intensity of returning to work after childbirth on the probability of initiating breastfeeding and the number of weeks of breastfeeding. Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). Baseline probit models and family-level fixed effects models indicate that returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the probability that the mother will initiate breastfeeding by 16-18%. Among those mothers who initiate breastfeeding, returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 4-6 weeks. We find less consistent evidence that working at least 35 hours per week (among mothers who return to work within 3 months) detracts from breastfeeding. Baseline and fixed effects models indicate that returning to full-time work is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 1-4 weeks; however, we do not find consistent evidence regarding the association between returning to full-time work and breastfeeding initiation. Overall, the findings suggest that maternal employment is negatively associated with both breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding duration.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9630.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Publication status: published as Pinka Chatterji & Kevin Frick, 2005. "Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 315-335, 09.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9630

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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  3. Kenneth Bollen & David Guilkey & Thomas Mroz, 1995. "Binary outcomes and endogenous explanatory variables: Tests and solutions with an application to the demand for contraceptive use in tunisia," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 111-131, February.
  4. Nelson, Charles R & Startz, Richard, 1990. "The Distribution of the Instrumental Variables Estimator and Its t-Ratio When the Instrument Is a Poor One," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages S125-40, January.
  5. Brian Roe & Leslie Whittington & Sara Fein & Mario Teisl, 1999. "Is there competition between breast-feeding and maternal employment?," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 157-171, May.
  6. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Thuan Q. Thai & Mikko Myrskylä, 2012. "Rainfall shocks, parental behavior and breastfeeding: evidence from rural Vietnam," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-009, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  2. Michael Baker & Kevin S. Milligan, 2007. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," NBER Working Papers 13188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kobayashi, Miki & Usui, Emiko, 2014. "Breastfeeding Practices and Parental Employment in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 8116, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Rachel Gordon & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2007. "The effects of maternal employment on child injuries and infectious disease," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(2), pages 307-333, May.

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