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The Labor Market Behavior of Married Women with Young Children in the U.S.: Have Differences by Religion Disappeared?


  • Lehrer, Evelyn L.

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Chen, Yu

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)


Using data from the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, conducted in the United States, we study the role of religious affiliation and participation in the labor supply behavior of non-Hispanic married women with young children. We estimate ordered probit models with a trichotomous dependent variable indicating full-time employment, part-time employment or non-employment. We find that the labor market decisions of Catholic women are not significantly different from those of their mainline Protestant counterparts, and that women affiliated with conservative Protestant denominations continue to stand out for their low levels of labor market attachment. With regard to religious participation, we find a non-linear association: the probability of non-employment is high both among women who have zero attendance at religious services and among those who attend more than once a week - the latter especially. Reasons for these non-linearities are explored. Our results suggest that future research on relationships between religious participation and various economic and demographic outcomes should be based on models that allow for non-linearities and also for differences in the effects of religious participation by religious affiliation.

Suggested Citation

  • Lehrer, Evelyn L. & Chen, Yu, 2013. "The Labor Market Behavior of Married Women with Young Children in the U.S.: Have Differences by Religion Disappeared?," IZA Discussion Papers 7254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7254

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lehrer, Evelyn L. & Lehrer, Vivian L. & Krauss, Ramona, 2009. "Religion and Intimate Partner Violence in Chile: Macro- and Micro-Level Influences," IZA Discussion Papers 4067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Evelyn Lehrer & Carmel Chiswick, 1993. "Religion as a determinant of marital stability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(3), pages 385-404, August.
    3. Vella, Francis, 1994. "Gender Roles and Human Capital Investment: The Relationship between Traditional Attitudes and Female Labour Market Performance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(242), pages 191-211, May.
    4. Evelyn L. Lehrer, 1992. "The Impact of Children on Married Women's Labor Supply: Black-White Differentials Revisited," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 27(3), pages 422-444.
    5. Linda J. Waite & Evelyn L. Lehrer, 2003. "The Benefits from Marriage and Religion in the United States: A Comparative Analysis," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(2), pages 255-275.
    6. Nicole M Fortin, 2005. "Gender Role Attitudes and the Labour-market Outcomes of Women across OECD Countries," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 416-438, Autumn.
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    Cited by:

    1. Evelyn Lehrer & Yu Chen, 2013. "Delayed entry into first marriage and marital stability," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(20), pages 521-542, September.

    More about this item


    religion; female employment; women's labor market behavior; religious affiliation; religious participation;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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