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The Effect of Maternal Employment on Children's Academic Performance

Author

Listed:
  • Rachel Dunifon
  • Anne Toft Hansen
  • Sean Nicholson
  • Lisbeth Palmhøj Nielsen

Abstract

Using a Danish data set that follows 135,000 Danish children from birth through 9th grade, we examine the effect of maternal employment during a child's first three and first 15 years on that child's grade point average in 9th grade. We address the endogeneity of employment by including a rich set of household control variables, instrumenting for employment with the gender- and education-specific local unemployment rate, and by including maternal fixed effects. We find that maternal employment has a positive effect on children's academic performance in all specifications, particularly when women work part-time. This is in contrast with the larger literature on maternal employment, much of which takes place in other contexts, and which finds no or a small negative effect of maternal employment on children's cognitive development and academic performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Rachel Dunifon & Anne Toft Hansen & Sean Nicholson & Lisbeth Palmhøj Nielsen, 2013. "The Effect of Maternal Employment on Children's Academic Performance," NBER Working Papers 19364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19364
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
    2. 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.
    3. Rucker Johnson & Ariel Kalil & Rachel Dunifon, 2012. "Employment Patterns of Less-Skilled Workers: Links to Children’s Behavior and Academic Progress," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(2), pages 747-772, May.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2004. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    5. Mari Rege & Kjetil Telle & Mark Votruba, 2011. "Parental Job Loss and Children's School Performance," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1462-1489.
    6. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2010. "Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
    7. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-266, May.
    8. 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.
    9. 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 48-80, February.
    10. Greve, Jane, 2011. "New results on the effect of maternal work hours on children's overweight status: Does the quality of child care matter?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(5), pages 579-590, October.
    11. Suzanne Bianchi, 2000. "Maternal employment and time with children: Dramatic change or surprising continuity?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 37(4), pages 401-414, November.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Warn N. Lekfuangfu & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew E. Clark & George Ward, 2015. "Early Maternal Employment and Non-cognitive Outcomes in Early Childhood and Adolescence: Evidence from British Birth Cohort Data," PSE Working Papers halshs-01223336, HAL.
    2. Cheng Chen & Shin-Yi Chou & Robert J. Thornton, 2015. "The Effect of Household Technology on Weight and Health Outcomes among Chinese Adults: Evidence from China's "Home Appliances Going to the Countryside" Policy," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 364-401.
    3. Martha H. Stinson & Peter Gottschalk, 2015. "Is there an Advantage to Working? The Relationship between Maternal Employment and Intergenerational Mobility," Working Papers 15-27, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Nie, Huihua & Zhao, Huainan, 2013. "Leverage and Employee Death: Evidence from China’s Coalmining Industry," MPRA Paper 52343, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Katrin Huber, 2015. "Moving to an Earnings-Related Parental Leave System: Do Heterogeneous Effects on Parents Make Some Children Worse Off?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 791, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Warn N. Lekfuangfu & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew E. Clark & George Ward, 2015. "Early Maternal Employment and Non-cognitive Outcomes in Early Childhood and Adolescence: Evidence from British Birth Cohort Data," Working Papers halshs-01223336, HAL.
    7. Huber, Katrin, 2015. "Moving to an earnings-related parental leave system do heterogeneous effects on parents make some children worse off?," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113044, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    8. Katrin Huber, 2015. "Moving to an earnings-related parental leave system – do heterogeneous effects on parents make some children worse off?," Working Papers 160, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    9. Michael Clemens and Timothy N. Ogden, 2014. "Migration as a Strategy for Household Finance: A Research Agenda on Remittances, Payments, and Development- Working Paper 354," Working Papers 354, Center for Global Development.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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