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Mechanisms for the Association Between Maternal Employment and Child Cognitive Development

  • John Cawley
  • Feng Liu

Recent research has found that maternal employment is associated with worse child performance on tests of cognitive ability. This paper explores mechanisms for that correlation. We estimate models of instrumental variables using a unique dataset, the American Time Use Survey, that measure the effect of maternal employment on the mother's allocation of time to activities related to child cognitive development. We find that employed women spend significantly less time reading to their children, helping with homework, and in educational activities in general. We find no evidence that these decreases in time are offset by increases in time by husbands and partners. These findings offer plausible mechanisms for the association of maternal employment with child cognitive development.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13609.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13609.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13609
Note: CH ED LS
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  1. Han, Wen-Jui, 2006. "Maternal work schedules and child outcomes: Evidence from the National Survey of American Families," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 1039-1059, September.
  2. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2005. "Data Watch: The American Time Use Survey," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 221-232, Winter.
  3. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2005. "Maternal Employment and Adolescent Development," IZA Discussion Papers 1673, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
  5. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F48-F80, 02.
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  7. Jane Waldfogel & Wen-Jui Han & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2002. "The effects of early maternal employment on child cognitive development," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 369-392, May.
  8. Grossman, Michael, 2000. "The human capital model," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 347-408 Elsevier.
  9. James Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," Working Papers 0028, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  10. Jones, Andrew M., 2000. "Health econometrics," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 265-344 Elsevier.
  11. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  12. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
  13. Angela Fertig & Gerhard Glomm & Rusty Tchernis, 2009. "The connection between maternal employment and childhood obesity: inspecting the mechanisms," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 227-255, September.
  14. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  16. Katharine G. Abraham & Aaron Maitland & Suzanne M. Bianchi, 2006. "Non-response in the American Time Use Survey: Who Is Missing from the Data and How Much Does It Matter?," NBER Technical Working Papers 0328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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