Maternal Employment and Parent-Child Interaction

Frank Heiland, Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Joseph P. Price, Brigham Young University

A number of studies have examined the effect of maternal employment on child outcomes. Many of these studies provide evidence consistent with a negative influence of maternal employment on child outcomes. We explore one of the mechanisms through which these effects may operate: changes in mother-child interactions. Using data from the NLSY (1979 Cohort), the PSID Child Development Supplement (CDS 1997), and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS 2003-2005), we test for differences in mother-child interactions based on the work hours of the mother. Specifically, using multivariate analyses that utilize the different strengths of the three data sources while emphasizing comparability, we estimate the effect of work hours on the total amount of (quality) time the mother spends with her children (PSID-CDS, ATUS) and the frequency she reads to them (NLSY, PSID-CDS, ATUS). Preliminary results suggest that full-time work is associated with substantial declines in quality mother-child interactions.

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Presented in Session 51: Maternal Employment and Child Time in Diverse Families