Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1409–1421 | Cite as

The Timing and Intensity of Maternal Employment in Early Childhood: Implications for Canadian Children

  • Teresa Katherine LightbodyEmail author
  • Deanna Lynn Williamson
Original Paper


This study focused on the associations between timing and intensity of maternal employment in early childhood and the developmental outcomes of young Canadian children. We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth using multiple linear regression. We tested the associations between mothers’ employment in the first four years of children’s lives and motor and social development of zero to 4-year-old-children and receptive language of 4 and 5-year-old-children. We also examined the association between working more than 20 h a week during the first 2 years of children’s lives and children’s outcomes. We found that mothers who returned to work when their children were between 0 and 4 years old had enhanced motor and social development in comparison to children of mothers who did not work during this time. Additionally, findings showed that relative to children of mothers who worked 20 h or less a week in the first 2 years of their children’s lives, in particular between 12 and 17 months, children of mothers who worked more than 20 h had lower receptive language scores at 4 and 5 years of age. These findings have implications for maternity and parental leave policy in Canada.


Maternal employment Hours worked Motor and social development Receptive vocabulary Maternity/parental leave 



This research was supported by funds to the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) from the Social Science and Humanities research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and Statistics Canada. Although the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada or the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10826_2017_668_MOESM1_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Supplementary Material


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Children, Youth and Families—Addiction and Mental HealthEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Human Ecology, University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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