Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 285–301 | Cite as

Effects of early maternal employment on maternal health and well-being

  • Pinka Chatterji
  • Sara Markowitz
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
Original Paper


This study uses data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study on Early Child Care to examine the effects of maternal employment on maternal mental and overall health, self-reported parenting stress, and parenting quality. These outcomes are measured when children are 6 months old. Among mothers of 6-month-old infants, maternal work hours are positively associated with depressive symptoms and parenting stress and negatively associated with self-rated overall health. However, maternal employment is not associated with quality of parenting at 6 months, based on trained assessors’ observations of maternal sensitivity.


Maternal employment Maternal health Maternity leave Family leave 

JEL Classification

I1 I10 I12 



The authors gratefully acknowledge that the project was supported by grant number R03HD052583 from the National Institute of Child Health And Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health And Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.


  1. Baker M, Milligan K (2008) Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: evidence from maternity leave mandates. J Health Econ 27:871–887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker M, Gruber J, Milligan K (2008) Universal child care, maternal labor supply, and family well-being. J Polit Econ 116:709–856CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baum CL (2003) Does early maternal employment harm child development? An analysis of the potential benefits of leave taking. J Labor Econ 21:409–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berger LM, Hill J, Waldfogel J (2005) Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US. Econ J 115:F29–F47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berger L, Brooks-Gunn J, Paxson C, Waldfogel J (2008) First-year maternal employment and child outcomes: differences across racial and ethnic groups. Child Youth Serv Rev 30:365–387CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bianchi SM (2000) Maternal employment and time with children: dramatic change or surprising continuity? Demography 37:401–414CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks-Gunn J, Han WJ, Waldfogel J (2002) Maternal employment and child cognitive outcomes in the first three years of life: the NICHD study of early child care. Child Dev 73:1052–1072CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cawley J, Liu F (2012) Maternal employment and childhood obesity: a search for mechanisms in time use data. Economics & Human Biology 10(4):352–364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chatterji P, Markowitz S (2005) Does the length of maternity leave affect maternal health? South Econ J 72:16–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chatterji P, Markowitz S (2012) Family leave after childbirth and the health of new mothers. J Mental Health Policy Econ 15:61–76Google Scholar
  11. Chatterji P, Markowitz S, Brooks-Gunn J (2011) Early maternal employment and family wellbeing. NBER working paper 17212Google Scholar
  12. Daniel SS, Grzwacz, JG, Leerkes E, Tucker J, Han W (2009) Nonstandard maternal work schedules during infancy: implications for children’s early behavior problems. Infant Behav Dev 32:195–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eaton WW, Muntaner C, Smith C, Tien A, Ybarra M (2003) Center for epidemiologic studies depression scale: review and revision (CESD and CESDR). In: Maruish ME (ed) The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment, 3rd edn, chapter 40, vol III. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, pp 8–9Google Scholar
  14. Gregg P, Washbrook E, Propper C, Burgess S (2005) The effects of a mother’s return to work decision on child development in the UK. Econ J 115:F48–F80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Han W (2005) Maternal nonstandard work schedules and child cognitive outcomes. Child Dev 76:137–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hill JL, Waldfogel J, Brooks-Gunn J, Han W (2005) Maternal employment and child development: a fresh look using newer methods. Dev Psychol 41:833–850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. James-Burdumy S (2005) The effect of maternal labor force participation on child development. J Labor Econ 23:177–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. NICHD Early Child Care Research Network (1994) Child care and child development: the NICHD study of early child care. In: Friedman SL, Haywood HC (eds) Developmental follow-up: concepts, domains, and methods. Academic, New York, pp 377–396Google Scholar
  19. Riggio HR (2006) Introduction: the adaptive response of families to maternal employment: part II—family perspectives. Am Behav Sci 49:1303–1309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ruhm CJ (2004) Parental employment and child cognitive development. J Hum Resour 39:155–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ruhm CJ (2008) Maternal employment and adolescent development. Lab Econ 15:958–983CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment characteristics of families summary, USDL 09–0568, May 2009Google Scholar
  23. Waldfogel J (2002) Child care, women’s employment, and child outcomes. J Popul Econ 15:527–548CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Waldfogel J, Han W, Brooks-Gunn J (2002) The effects of early maternal employment on child cognitive development. Demography 39:369–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pinka Chatterji
    • 1
    • 4
  • Sara Markowitz
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.National Center for Children and FamiliesColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.NBERCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations