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Mothers' Employment and Children's Educational Gender Gap

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  • Xiaodong Fan
  • Hanming Fang
  • Simen Markussen

Abstract

This paper analyzes the connection between two concurrent trends since 1950: the narrowing and reversal of the educational gender gap and the increased labor force participation rate (LFPR) of married women. We hypothesize that the education production for boys is more adversely affected by a decrease in the mother's time input as a result of increasing employment. Therefore, an increase in the labor force participation rate of married women may narrow and even reverse the educational gender gap in the following generation. We use micro data from the Norwegian registry to directly show that the mother's employment during her children's childhood has an asymmetric effect on the educational achievement of her own sons and daughters. We also document a positive correlation between the educational gender gap in a particular generation and the LFPR of married women in the previous generation at the U.S. state level. We then propose a model that generates a novel prediction about the implications of these asymmetric effects on the mothers' labor supply decisions and find supporting evidence in both the U.S. and Norwegian data.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiaodong Fan & Hanming Fang & Simen Markussen, 2015. "Mothers' Employment and Children's Educational Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 21183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21183
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    1. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan, 2013. "The Trouble with Boys: Social Influences and the Gender Gap in Disruptive Behavior," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 32-64, January.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
    3. Sheila Krein & Andrea Beller, 1988. "Educational attainment of children from single-parent families: Differences by exposure, gender, and race," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(2), pages 221-234, May.
    4. Christopher Dougherty, 2005. "Why Are the Returns to Schooling Higher for Women than for Men?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 969-988.
    5. Sonalde Desai & P. Chase-Lansdale & Robert Michael, 1989. "Mother or Market? Effects of Maternal Employment on the Intellectual Ability of 4-Year-Old Children," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(4), pages 545-561, November.
    6. Suqin Ge, 2011. "Women's College Decisions: How Much Does Marriage Matter?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(4), pages 773-818.
    7. Raquel Fernández & Joyce C. Wong, 2014. "Divorce Risk, Wages, and Working Wives: A Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 19869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-481, August.
    9. Lixing Li & Xiaoyu Wu, 2011. "Gender of Children, Bargaining Power, and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in China," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 295-316.
    10. Georg-Levi Gayle & Limor Golan & Mehmet A. Soytas, "undated". "Estimating the Returns to Parental Time Investment in Children Using a Life Cycle Dynastic Model," GSIA Working Papers 2011-E18, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lone Engbo Christiansen & Huidan Huidan Lin & Joana Pereira & Petia Topalova & Rima Turk, 2016. "Individual Choice or Policies? Drivers of Female Employment in Europe," IMF Working Papers 16/49, International Monetary Fund.
    2. Sanni Breining & Joseph Doyle & David N. Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth, 2020. "Birth Order and Delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 95-142.
    3. Brenøe, Anne Ardila & Lundberg, Shelly, 2018. "Gender gaps in the effects of childhood family environment: Do they persist into adulthood?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 42-62.
    4. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Julie Moschion, 2017. "Gender gaps in early educational achievement," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 1093-1134, October.
    5. Takaku, Reo, 2018. "First daughter effects in Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 48-59.
    6. David Autor & David Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth & Melanie Wasserman, 2016. "School Quality and the Gender Gap in Educational Achievement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 289-295, May.
    7. Sanni Breining & Joseph Doyle & David N. Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth, 2017. "Birth Order and Delinquency: Evidence from Denmark and Florida," CESifo Working Paper Series 6330, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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