OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers

1815-199X (online)
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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market, social policy and migration studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Early Maternal Employment and Child Development in Five OECD Countries You or your institution have access to this content

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Maria del Carmen Huerta1, Willem Adema1, Jennifer Baxter2, Miles Corak3, Mette Deding4, Matthew C. Gray5, Wen-Jui Han6, Jane Waldfogel6
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

  • 2: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australia

  • 3: University of Ottawa, Canada

  • 4: Danish National Institute of Social Research, Denmark

  • 5: Australian National University, Australia

  • 6: Columbia University, United States

06 Sep 2011
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More mothers with young children are in paid work than in the past. There is a long-running debate on possible negative effects of maternal employment on child development. For the first time, this paper presents an initial comparative analysis of longitudinal data on maternal employment patterns after birth on child cognitive and behavioural development. The paper examines data of five OECD countries with different types and intensity of support provided to families to reconcile work and family life. The evidence suggests that a return to paid work by mothers within six months after childbirth may have negative effects on child outcomes, particularly on cognitive development, but the effects are small and not universally observed. Other factors such as family income, parental education and quality of interaction with children have greater influences on child development than early maternal employment per se.
behavior problems, cognitive development, childcare, maternal employment, birth cohort studies
JEL Classification:
  • D10: Microeconomics / Household Behavior and Family Economics / General
  • D60: Microeconomics / Welfare Economics / General
  • J13: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Fertility ; Family Planning ; Child Care ; Children ; Youth
  • J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender ; Non-labor Discrimination
  • J22: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Time Allocation and Labor Supply
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