Who "Opts out," Who "Opts Back in," and When? Women's Labor Force Attachment before and after the First Birth

Jaehee Choi, University of Texas at Austin

The labor force participation rate of married mothers with young children decreased during the last decade after reaching the peak in the 1990s. Despite the importance of this issue from the public policy standpoint, it appears that there is less discussion on the broader population of working mothers. The existing work has focused almost exclusively on high-skilled female professionals leaving the workforce. A woman’s first childbirth is an interesting event to study her labor supply, as she has to figure out how to combine work and childcare responsibilities. This paper contributes to the exiting literature by documenting the behaviors of labor market attachment of new mothers from a nationally representative cohort. In particular, it focuses explicitly on women’s exits and returns around the timing of their first childbirth using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) and examines whether there are systematic differences in these behaviors.

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 Presented in Session P8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, and Inequality/Gender, Race and Ethnicity