Examing the Effects of Early Maternal Employment on Child Outcomes at School Age
This study examines the effects of maternal employment during the first year of a child's life on their cognitive and non-cognitive development at age nine using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The relationship is estimated using multiple regression in which the outcomes are a child's percentile rank on four nationally-normed assessments and their score on a delinquency scale, and the independent variable of interest is a variable indicating if a mother worked at all during the first year of her child's life. The models used in this study control for child, maternal, and family characteristics. Results suggest no relationship between maternal employment and children's development. This is robust across outcomes and subgroups and suggests that any relationship between maternal employment and child outcomes might fade out by age nine. Secondary analyses using full-time employment as the key independent variable do show a potential relationship between full-time work and children's development at age nine. While these results cannot be interpreted causally, they support the hypothesis that increased financial resources gained through maternal employment support children's cognitive development through age nine.
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