Making Time for Well-Baby Care: The Role of Maternal Employment
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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children receive six well-baby visits between ages 1 month and 1 year, yet by age 14 months less than 10% of infants have received all six visits. Cost sharing under public and private insurance is very low. Low compliance rates despite the low cost of care suggest other factors, such as time costs, may be important. This paper examines the relationship between maternal employment and receipt of well-baby care. The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey contains rich information on use of preventive care, maternal employment, and other economic and non-economic factors that may influence care decisions. Several approaches, including a proxy variable strategy and instrumental variables analysis, are used to attempt to address the potential endogeneity of maternal employment and examine the sensitivity of findings. Findings indicate mothers who work full-time take their children to 0.18 fewer visits (or 9% fewer at the mean) than those who have quit their jobs. Mothers with employer provided paid vacation leave take their children to 0.20 more visits (or 9% more at the mean) than other working mothers. Time appears to be an important factor in determining well-baby care receipt. Policies that extend paid leave to more employed women may improve compliance with preventive care recommendations.