Employment and Child Care Decisions of Mothers and the Well-Being of Their Children (WP-03-03)


IPR-WP-03-03

Raquel Bernal

This paper develops and estimates a dynamic model of employment and child care decisions of women after childbirth to evaluate the effects of mothers’ decisions on children’s cognitive ability. Bernal uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the model. The results suggest that the effects of maternal employment and child care on children’s cognitive ability are negative and rather sizeable. In fact, having a full-time working mother who uses child care in the first five years after the child’s birth is associated with a 10.4 percent reduction in ability test scores. Based on the estimates of the model, she assesses the impact of policies related to parental leave, child care, and other incentives to stay at home after birth on women’s decisions and children’s outcomes.

Raquel Bernal, Economics and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

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