Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 315–335 | Cite as

Does Returning to Work After Childbirth Affect Breastfeeding Practices?

Article

Abstract

This study examines the effect of the timing and intensity of returning to work after childbirth on the probability of initiating breastfeeding and the number of weeks of breastfeeding. Data come from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). Baseline probit models and family-level fixed effects models indicate that returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the probability that the mother will initiate breastfeeding by 16–18%. Among those mothers who initiate breastfeeding, returning to work within 3 months is associated with a reduction in the length of breastfeeding of 4–5 weeks. We find less consistent evidence that working at least 35 h per week (among mothers who return to work within 3 months) detracts from breastfeeding. Future research is needed on understanding how employers can design policies and workplaces that support breastfeeding.

Key words

breastfeeding maternal employment maternity leave 

JEL Classification

112 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance-Harvard Medical School National Bureau of Economic ResearchSomervilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy & Management, Department of Economics, Department of International Health, Department of Ophthalmology, and School of NursingJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimore USA

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