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“Opting out?” The effect of children on women's employment in the United States

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  • Heather Boushey

Abstract

In the United States, a recent spate of popular media attention has focused on whether mothers, especially highly educated mothers in their thirties, are increasingly “opting out” of employment. This paper uses data from the Current Population Survey's Annual Social and Economic Survey (ASEC) to examine whether children cause women to exit employment. This paper finds that the “child effect” on women's employment has fallen since the end of the 1970s. The child effect was -21.8 percentage points in 1979 and has fallen consistently over the last two decades to -12.7 percentage points in 2005. Between 2000 and 2005, the child effect grew from -11.1 to -12.7, but the change was statistically insignificant. Recent declines in women's employment may be more an effect of the weak labor market for all women, mothers and non-mothers, rather than an increase in mothers voluntarily choosing to exit employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Heather Boushey, 2008. "“Opting out?” The effect of children on women's employment in the United States," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 1-36.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:14:y:2008:i:1:p:1-36
    DOI: 10.1080/13545700701716672
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2006. "The U.S. Gender Pay Gap in the 1990S: Slowing Convergence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 45-66, October.
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    7. Heather Boushey, 2008. "Family Friendly Policies: Helping Mothers Make Ends Meet," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 66(1), pages 51-70.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Women's employment; work and family; mother's employment; JEL Codes: J22; J16;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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