Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 297–309 | Cite as

The Effects of Children’s Health on Mothers’ Employment

  • Hua ZanEmail author
  • Robert L. Scharff
Original Paper


When children have health problems, mothers face a tradeoff between the decision to work to satisfy increased expenses and the decision to stay home to fulfill enlarged caregiving needs, especially for children with chronic conditions. This research used an instrumental variables approach to investigate the labor market consequences of mothers due to burden to care children with health problems. We found mothers’ employment probability increased by 0.9% for every $100 of increased out-of-pocket medical spending, while employment probability fell by 1.0% for every half day of school/day care a sick child missed. By correcting for endogeneity we addressed a potential empirical bias. Analyses by subgroups showed that Hispanic mothers were less likely to work in the labor market with high caregiving burden. We also found that the effects of time burden on labor market outcomes were magnified for black mothers.


Mothers’ employment Children’s health Caregiving Childcare burden 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center on the FamilyUniversity of Hawaiʻi at MānoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human SciencesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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