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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 1 No. 3 (July 2009)

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To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply

Article Citation

Frijters, Paul, David W. Johnston, Manisha Shah, and Michael A. Shields. 2009. "To Work or Not to Work? Child Development and Maternal Labor Supply." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(3): 97-110.

DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.97

Abstract

We estimate the effect of early child development on maternal labor force participation. Mothers of poorly developing children may remain at home to care for their children. Alternatively, mothers may enter the labor force to pay for additional educational and health resources. Which action dominates is the empirical question we answer in this paper. We control for the potential endogeneity of child development by using an instrumental variables approach, uniquely exploiting exogenous variation in child development associated with child handedness. We find that a one unit increase in poor child development decreases maternal labor force participation by approximately 10 percentage points. (JEL J13, J16, J22)

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Authors

Frijters, Paul (Queensland U Technology)
Johnston, David W. (Queensland U Technology)
Shah, Manisha (U Melbourne)
Shields, Michael A. (U Melbourne)

JEL Classifications

J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J22: Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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