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The Employment of Married Mothers in Great Britain: 1974 - 2000


  • Paul Gregg
  • Maria Gutierrez-Domenech
  • Jane Waldfogel



This paper analyses the increase in mother’s employment in Britain over the period 1974-2000. The approach consists of isolating those whose birth cohorts whose mothers experienced significant increases in employment and relating those to changes in policies (maternity rights, taxation and childcare). The results suggest that maternity rights have induced a change in behaviour toward returning to work in the first year post-birth, among many mothers who would otherwise gone back to work when their children were age 3-5. This effect has been most marked among better educated and higher paid mothers and has strengthen as real wages have risen through time. However, the paper also suggests that the increased labour market experience and job tenure of mothers as a result of maternity rights legislation has only had a very modest impact on earnings. This is as a result of most of the extra experience being part-time which has very low returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Gregg & Maria Gutierrez-Domenech & Jane Waldfogel, 2003. "The Employment of Married Mothers in Great Britain: 1974 - 2000," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/078, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:03/078

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Machin, Stephen, 1996. "Wage Inequality in the UK," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 47-64, Spring.
    2. Burgess, Simon & Gregg, Paul & Propper, Carol & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2008. "Maternity rights and mothers' return to work," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 168-201, April.
    3. Stephen Nickell & Patricia Jones & Glenda Quintini, 2002. "A Picture of Job Insecurity Facing British Men," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 1-27, January.
    4. Gregory, Mary & Jukes, Robert, 2001. "Unemployment and Subsequent Earnings: Estimating Scarring among British Men 1984-94," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(475), pages 607-625, November.
    5. Maria Gutierrez Domenech & Brian Bell, 2004. "Female Labour Force Participation In The UK: Evolving Characteristics Or Changing Behaviour?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 18, Royal Economic Society.
    6. Mike Brewer, 2001. "Comparing in-work benefits and the reward to work for families with children in the US and the UK," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 22(1), pages 41-77, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chzhen, Yekaterina & Mumford, Karen A. & Nicodemo, Catia, 2012. "The Gender Pay Gap in the Australian Private Sector: Is Selection Relevant across the Wage Distribution?," IZA Discussion Papers 6558, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Maya Rossin‐Slater & Christopher J. Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel, 2013. "The Effects of California's Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave‐Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 224-245, March.
    3. Yekaterina Chzhen & Karen Mumford & Catia Nicodemo, 2013. "The Gender Pay Gap in the Australian Private Sector: Is Selection Relevant Across the Earnings Distribution?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(286), pages 367-381, September.
    4. Wendy Sigle-Rushton, 2008. "England and Wales: Stable fertility and pronounced social status differences," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(15), pages 455-502, July.
    5. Hanel Barbara & Riphahn Regina T., 2012. "The Employment of Mothers – Recent Developments and their Determinants in East and West Germany," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(2), pages 146-176, April.
    6. Davia, María A. & Legazpe, Nuria, 2012. "Decisiones laborales de las mujeres casadas o cohabitantes en España/Employment Decisions of Married or Cohabiting Women in Spain," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 30, pages 1065(22.)-1, Diciembre.
    7. Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 10500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2009. "Accommodating Families," Chapters,in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 11 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Maya Rossin-Slater, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," NBER Working Papers 23069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Wen-Jui Han & Christopher Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel & Elizabeth Washbrook, 2009. "Public Policies and Women's Employment after Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 14660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2009. "Accommodating Families," Chapters,in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 11 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Benito, Andrew & Bunn, Philip, 2011. "Understanding labour force participation in the United Kingdom," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 51(1), pages 36-42.

    More about this item


    married women's employment; maternity policies;

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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