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To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply

Listed author(s):
  • Paul Frijters
  • David W. Johnston
  • Manisha Shah
  • Michael A. Shields

We estimate the effect of early child development on maternal labor force participation. Mothers of poorly developing children may remain at home to care for their children. Alternatively, mothers may enter the labor force to pay for additional educational and health resources. Which action dominates is the empirical question we answer in this paper. We control for the potential endogeneity of child development by using an instrumental variables approach, uniquely exploiting exogenous variation in child development associated with child handedness. We find that a one unit increase in poor child development decreases maternal labor force participation by approximately 10 percentage points. (JEL J13, J16, J22)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/app.1.3.97
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/data/2008-0143_data.zip
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 97-110

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:3:p:97-110
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.97
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-applied
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  1. Elise Gould, 2004. "Decomposing the effects of children's health on mother's labor supply: is it time or money?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(6), pages 525-541.
  2. Christopher S. Ruebeck & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr & Robert Moffitt, 1997. "Handedness and Earnings," Economics Working Paper Archive 533, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Jun 2004.
  3. Kevin Denny & Vincent O’ Sullivan, 2007. "The Economic Consequences of Being Left-Handed: Some Sinister Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  4. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman, 2005. "Mother's Labor Supply in Fragile Families: The Role of Child Health," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 601-616, Fall.
  5. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
  6. Elizabeth T. Powers, 2003. "Children’s Health and Maternal Work Activity: Estimates under Alternative Disability Definitions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
  7. David S. Salkever, 1982. "Children's Health Problems and Maternal Work Status," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 94-109.
  8. Matthew Gray & Diana Smart, 2009. "Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: A Valuable New Data Source for Economists," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 42(3), pages 367-376.
  9. David Johnston & Michael Nicholls & Manisha Shah & Michael Shields, 2009. "Nature’s experiment? Handedness and early childhood development," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 46(2), pages 281-301, May.
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