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First-Year Maternal Employment and Child Outcomes: Differences Across Racial and Ethnic Groups

  • Lawrence M. Berger

    (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn

    (Columbia University)

  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

  • Jane Waldfogel

    (Columbia University)

We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine associations between first-year maternal employment and child outcomes for 3-year-old white, Black, and Hispanic children. We find that first-year maternal employment is associated with lower vocabulary scores for white, but not Black or Hispanic, children and with elevated levels of aggressive behavior problems for Hispanic, but not white or Black, children. Factors such as the timing and intensity of employment, family structure, and maternal education sometimes moderate these associations, but do not explain differences across racial and ethnic groups. Child care and parenting behaviors do not appear to mediate associations between first-year maternal employment and children’s outcomes and cannot explain racial and ethnic differences in these associations.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 911.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:bbpw_abstract
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  1. 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.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
  3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Francine D. Blau & Adam J. Grossberg, 1990. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 3536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Susanna Loeb & Margaret Bridges & Bruce Fuller & Russ Rumberger & Daphna Bassok, 2005. "How Much is Too Much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Social and Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 11812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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, vol. 26(4), pages 545-561, November.
  7. repec:mpr:mprres:5039 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Matthew J. Neidell, 2000. "Early Parental Time Investments In Children's Human Capital Development: Effects Of Time In The First Year On Cognitive And Non-Cognitive Outcomes," UCLA Economics Working Papers 806, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
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