Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 67–79 | Cite as

Labor Force Supply Decisions of Rural Low-Income Mothers

  • Sheila MammenEmail author
  • Daniel Lass
  • Sharon B. Seiling
Original Paper


Employment is crucial to the economic well-being of families. Using a multi-state sample of 412 rural low-income mothers, our study identifies factors influencing two employment decisions they make: labor force entry and number of hours supplied. A logistic regression model correctly predicted 80% of mothers’ work participation decisions. Employed mothers were older, better educated, and less likely to suffer from depression; as well as, more likely to have a driver’s license and receive child care assistance and the Earned Income Tax Credit. An estimated labor supply function explained 33% of the variation in hours worked by the 208 employed rural mothers. Higher wages, availability of health insurance, and overtime benefits predicted the number of hours they were willing to work.


Labor force participation Rural low-income mothers Women’s labor supply 



This research was supported in part by USDA/CSREES/NRICGP Grant Number 2001-35401-10215 & 2002-35401-11591, 2004-35401-14938. Data were collected in conjunction with the cooperative multi-state research project, NC-223/NC-1011, “Rural Low–Income Families: Monitoring Their Well-being and Functioning in the Context of Welfare Reform.” Cooperating states are California, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and Oregon. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Megan Dolan, graduate research assistant, Peter St. Marie and Thomas Martin, undergraduate research assistants, all at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheila Mammen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Lass
    • 2
  • Sharon B. Seiling
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Resource EconomicsUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.Department of Resource EconomicsUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of Consumer SciencesOhio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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