The Wages and Work Patterns of Women Who Breastfeed Their Children

Vida Maralani, Yale University
Samuel Stabler, Yale University

We revisit the question of how the earnings of women who breastfeed might differ from the earnings of those who do not. Breastfeeding is just one of numerous changes, constraints, and choices that come with having a new child. In order to understand the role that breastfeeding plays in the working lives of women, our analyses link this question back to the larger literature on work and motherhood. We describe differences in women’s economic outcomes (wages, weeks worked, annual earnings) by breastfeeding separately for those who stay in the labor force versus those who take time off or leave. We answer the following research questions: do women who breastfeed their children have different work patterns, including leaves from work, than women who do not breastfeed at all? Conditional on working within one year after giving birth, what is the difference in the wages that women earn by breastfeeding status?

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Presented in Session 143: Gender, Wages and Work