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

Author

Listed:
  • Paul Frijters
  • David W. Johnston
  • Manisha Shah
  • Michael A. Shields

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Frijters & David W. Johnston & Manisha Shah & Michael A. Shields, 2009. "To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 97-110, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:3:p:97-110
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.97
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Kuehnle, 2013. "The causal effect of family income on child health: A re-examination using an instrumental variables approach," Working Papers 133, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    2. Halla, Martin & Zweimüller, Martina, 2014. "Parental Response to Early Human Capital Shocks: Evidence from the Chernobyl Accident," IZA Discussion Papers 7968, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Kevin Denny & Wen Zhang, 2010. "In praise of ambidexterity: how a continuum of handedness predicts social adjustment," Working Papers 201019, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
    4. repec:afe:journl:v:19:y:2017:i:1:p:27-60 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Johnston, David W. & Nicholls, Michael E. R. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2010. "Handedness, Health and Cognitive Development: Evidence from Children in the NLSY," IZA Discussion Papers 4774, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Kuehnle, Daniel, 2014. "The causal effect of family income on child health in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 137-150.
    7. repec:taf:oaefxx:v:5:y:2017:i:1:p:1339769 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Meng-Wen Tsou & Jin-Tan Liu & Kuang-Hsien Wang, 2014. "Impact of Low Birth Weight Child on Maternal Labour Force Participation: Evidence from Taiwan," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(4), pages 483-501, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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