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Maternal Employment and Child Outcomes: Evidence from the Irish Marriage Bar

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Listed:
  • Irene Mosca
  • Vincent Aidan O'Sullivan
  • Robert Wright

Abstract

This paper empirically investigates the relationship between maternal employment and child outcomes using micro-data collected in the third wave of The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing. A novel source of exogenous variation in the employment decisions of women is used to investigate this relationship. Between the 1920s and the 1970s, women working in certain sectors or in certain jobs were required to leave paid employment upon getting married in Ireland. The majority of women affected by this “Marriage Bar†then became mothers and never returned to work, or returned only after several years. Regression analysis is used to compare the educational attainment of the children of mothers who were required to leave employment on marriage because of the Marriage Bar to the educational attainment of the children of mothers who were not required to do so. It is found that the children of mothers affected by the Marriage Bar have a much higher probability of completing university education than the children of mothers who were not. The difference is around seven percentage points. This is a sizeable effect when compared to the observation that about 40% of the children in the sample completed university education. This effect is found to be robust to alternative specifications that include variables aimed at controlling for differences in maternal occupation and personality traits and differences in paternal education.

Suggested Citation

  • Irene Mosca & Vincent Aidan O'Sullivan & Robert Wright, 2017. "Maternal Employment and Child Outcomes: Evidence from the Irish Marriage Bar," Working Papers 194217569, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:lan:wpaper:194217569
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    File URL: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/media/lancaster-university/content-assets/documents/lums/economics/working-papers/LancasterWP2017_022.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schildberg-Hoerisch, Hannah, 2011. "Does parental employment affect children's educational attainment?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1456-1467.
    2. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad & Kari Vea Salvanes, 2016. "What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 655-670, October.
    3. Margherita Fort & Nicole Schneeweis & Rudolf Winter‐Ebmer, 2016. "Is Education Always Reducing Fertility? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(595), pages 1823-1855, September.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Eric Bettinger & Torbjørn Haegeland & Mari Rege, 2014. "Home with Mom: The Effects of Stay-at-Home Parents on Children's Long-Run Educational Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 443-467.
    7. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    8. Pedro Carneiro & Katrine V. Løken & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2015. "A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long-Run Outcomes of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(2), pages 365-412.
    9. Liu Qian & Skans Oskar Nordstrom, 2010. "The Duration of Paid Parental Leave and Children's Scholastic Performance," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, January.
    10. Rasmussen, Astrid Würtz, 2010. "Increasing the length of parents' birth-related leave: The effect on children's long-term educational outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 91-100, January.
    11. Susanne James-Burdumy, 2005. "The Effect of Maternal Labor Force Participation on Child Development," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 177-211, January.
    12. repec:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:600:p:271-296 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Giorgio Brunello & Guglielmo Weber & Christoph T. Weiss, 2017. "Books are Forever: Early Life Conditions, Education and Lifetime Earnings in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(600), pages 271-296, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    marriage; mother; employment; child; education;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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