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The time and the transitions back to work in France after maternity


Previous studies have shown that childrearing has a different impact on a mother’s professional career, depending, among other reasons, on how much time passed from birth to return to work. In this paper, we use a competing risks model to determine which variables may explain time out of work, as well as the transition back to work for young mothers in France. In our study, mothers can decide to go back to the same employer, change a personal but also a professionalemployer and/or change labour supply. Our results show that it is mostly the age of the mothers at birth, their pre-birth wages, tenure, firm size as well as the state of the economy as a whole that play a large role in the way young mothers go back to work, if at all. This research highlights the key factors on which causal research should be based in order to advise firms and also policy-makers on how to influence mothers’ labour supply behaviors.

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  1. Source: Eurostat (downloaded: 11/09/2018).

  2. This is the so-called congé parental d’écucation in French.

  3. DRESS: Research Division of the French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

  4. A licensed childminder is a professional who cares for children at home, but unlike the nanny, is certified by the state.

  5. We focus in this study on women who are eligible for parental leave.

  6. We define part-time work using the variable CE of DADS-EDP: 1: Full time and 2: Part time.

  7. Déclaration Annuelle des Données Sociales or Annual Declaration of Social Data, Échantillon Démographique Permanent. or Permanent Demographic Sample.

  8. We suppose that hourly wages do not evolve between the civil year before birth and the year of the birth.

  9. The distance we computed is the great circle distance, and it might actually be a bad proxy or commuting time. Indeed, it is entirely possible to live close to one’s working place and take very long to get there because of lack of public transportation or too much traffic. However, with this data, this is the best proxy we could come up with.

  10. Source: World Bank (downloaded: 14/06/2016).

  11. Source: INSEE (downloaded: 31/10/2016).

  12. Since individuals living in overseas departments are considered only since 2004, only part of our analysis period, we have decided not to include them in the analysis. They represent in the period 2004-2010 only 265 observations.

  13. In our data, we observe that civil servants often have a number of hours of work or wages automatically reported, this mean that we do not observe a reduction in working time or/and in wages in the year of the child’s birth. We decided to remove these women from the sample rather than assigning them the duration of the statutory maternity leave, as there is no way we could check this.

  14. We did not find any particular characteristics associated with the wrong approximation of post-natal leave (post-natal leave of 0 day). This seems to be independent of the sector of the firm or occupational categories.

  15. As the panel was enriched in 2003, we have between 150 and 400 individuals between 1995 and 2002 and between 680 and 850 after that date.

  16. 2004 is the year were the CLCA was introduced, as explained in Section 2.

  17. The results of other models are available upon request.

  18. See Appendix for a description of the reference mother.



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The authors wish to thank anonymous referees, Elena Stancanelli, Isabelle Terraz, Bertrand Koebel, Mathieu Lefebvre, François Legendre, François-Charles Wolff and Ralf Wilke for their helpful comments. This work is supported by public grants overseen by the French National Research Agency (ANR) as part of the “Investissements d’avenir” program (reference: ANR-10-EQPX-17—Centre d’accès sécurisé aux données—CASD) and the “FamPol” project (reference: ANR-10-EQPX-17). Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the organizations or services for which they work.

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Correspondence to Bruno Rodrigues or Vincent Vergnat.

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Table 5.

Table 5 Characteristics of the reference person used in section Results and Discussion

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Rodrigues, B., Vergnat, V. The time and the transitions back to work in France after maternity. Rev Econ Household 17, 861–888 (2019).

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  • Post-natal Leave
  • Labour Supply
  • Competing Risks
  • Administrative Data

JEL classification

  • C41
  • D10
  • J13