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Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?

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  • Pinka Chatterji
  • Kevin Frick

Abstract

Although the Surgeon General recently highlighted breastfeeding as '......one of the most important contributors to infant health,' few health economics studies based in developed countries have considered breastfeeding as an important health behavior that can be influenced by labor market decisions and by public policies. This study examines the effect of the timing and intensity of returning to work after childbirth on the probability of initiating breastfeeding and the number of weeks of breastfeeding. Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). Baseline probit models and family-level fixed effects models indicate that returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the probability that the mother will initiate breastfeeding by 16-18%. Among those mothers who initiate breastfeeding, returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 4-6 weeks. We find less consistent evidence that working at least 35 hours per week (among mothers who return to work within 3 months) detracts from breastfeeding. Baseline and fixed effects models indicate that returning to full-time work is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 1-4 weeks; however, we do not find consistent evidence regarding the association between returning to full-time work and breastfeeding initiation. Overall, the findings suggest that maternal employment is negatively associated with both breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding duration.

Suggested Citation

  • Pinka Chatterji & Kevin Frick, 2003. "Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?," NBER Working Papers 9630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9630
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    4. Brian Roe & Leslie Whittington & Sara Fein & Mario Teisl, 1999. "Is there competition between breast-feeding and maternal employment?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(2), pages 157-171, May.
    5. 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.
    6. Kenneth Bollen & David Guilkey & Thomas Mroz, 1995. "Binary outcomes and endogenous explanatory variables: Tests and solutions with an application to the demand for contraceptive use in tunisia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(1), pages 111-131, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anita Kottwitz & Anja Oppermann & C. Katharina Spiess, 2016. "Parental leave benefits and breastfeeding in Germany: effects of the 2007 reform," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 859-890, December.
    2. Resul Cesur & Joseph J. Sabia & Inas Rashad Kelly & Muzhe Yang, 2017. "The effect of breastfeeding on young adult wages: new evidence from the add health," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 25-51, March.
    3. Miki Kobayashi & Emiko Usui, 2017. "Breastfeeding practices and parental employment in Japan," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 579-596, June.
    4. Thuan Q. Thai & Mikko Myrskylä, 2012. "Rainfall shocks, parental behavior and breastfeeding: evidence from rural Vietnam," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-009, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
    6. Bidisha Mandal & Brian Roe & Sara Fein, 2014. "Work and breastfeeding decisions are jointly determined for higher socioeconomic status US mothers," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 237-257, June.
    7. Rachel Gordon & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman, 2007. "The effects of maternal employment on child injuries and infectious disease," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(2), pages 307-333, May.

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    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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