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Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US


  • Lawrence M. Berger
  • Jennifer Hill
  • Jane Waldfogel


This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to explore links between mothers' returns to work within 12 weeks of giving birth and health and developmental outcomes for their children. OLS models and propensity score matching methods are utilised to account for selection bias. Considerable associations between early returns to work and children's outcomes are found suggesting causal relationships between early returns to work and reductions in breastfeeding and immunisations, as well as increases in externalising behaviour problems. These results are generally stronger for mothers who return to work full-time within 12 weeks of giving birth. Copyright 2005 Royal Economic Society.

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  • Lawrence M. Berger & Jennifer Hill & Jane Waldfogel, 2005. "Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages 29-47, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:115:y:2005:i:501:p:f29-f47

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    1. Barmby, T A & Orme, C D & Treble, John G, 1991. "Worker Absenteeism: An Analysis Using Microdata," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(405), pages 214-229, March.
    2. Barmby, Tim & Orme, Chris & Treble, John, 1995. "Worker absence histories: a panel data study," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 53-65, March.
    3. Johansson, Per & Palme, MÃ¥rten, 1998. "Assessing the effect of a compulsory sickness insurance on worker absenteeism," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 287, Stockholm School of Economics.
    4. Coles, Melvyn G. & Treble, John G., 1993. "The price of worker reliability," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 149-155.
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