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Mother's Labor Supply in Fragile Families: The Role of Child Health


  • Hope Corman

    () (Rider University
    National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Kelly Noonan

    (Rider University
    National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Nancy E. Reichman

    (Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
    University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey)


A growing body of research indicates that low socioeconomic status in early childhood sets the stage for increasing disadvantages in both health and educational capital over the child's life course and can cause low socioeconomic status to persist for generations. The study estimated the effects of poor child health on the labor supply of mothers with one-year-old children using a national longitudinal data set that oversampled unmarried parents in the post welfare reform era. It was found that having a child in poor health reduces the mother's probability of working by eight percentage points and her hours of work by three per week when she is employed. Another important finding is that the father having children with another partner increases the mothers' labor supply, even after controlling for the focal child's health status and numerous other covariates.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eej:eeconj:v:31:y:2005:i:4:p:601-616

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Deborah Roempke Graefe & Daniel Lichter, 1999. "Life course transitions of American children: Parental cohabitation, marriage, and single motherhood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(2), pages 205-217, May.
    2. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
    3. Charles L. Baum II, 2003. "Does Early Maternal Employment Harm Child Development? An Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Leave Taking," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 381-408, April.
    4. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2005. "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16-41, July.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:9:1458-1461_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    7. Alice Nakamura & Masao Nakamura, 1994. "Predicting Female Labor Supply: Effects of Children and Recent Work Experience," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 304-327.
    8. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 2002. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 88-97, January.
    9. 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.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:9:1453-1457_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Elizabeth T. Powers, 2001. "New Estimates of the Impact of Child Disability on Maternal Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 135-139, May.
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