Choosing children over career? Changes in the postpartum labor force behavior of professional women

Choosing children over career? Changes in the postpartum labor force behavior of professional women In recent years, the popular press in the U.S. hasrepeatedly profiled professionalwomen who have elected to leave the labor force inorder to devote their full-timeenergies to child rearing. The conclusion of thesearticles is often that mothers havetired of trying to be ‘superwomen’ and have decidedthat high achievement in thelabor force is not compatible with a successful homelife. The purpose of this paperis to explore whether this impression is, in fact,based in truth. Using a sample ofprofessional women drawn from the PSID during theyears 1968–1992, we estimatethe probability of withdrawing from the labor forceat one, two and five year intervalsafter the birth of a child. We use several differentmeasures of labor force withdrawaland find that women who gave birth in recent years aremore likely to report zero hoursof work two years after the birth of a child when comparedto women who gave birthearlier in the sample period. Thus, we find some supportfor the conjecture that moreprofessional women are opting to stay home and raisechildren in lieu of aggressivelypursuing their careers. We do not find any differencesby cohort, indicating that thisphenomenon cuts across women of all childbearingages. However, our results are notrobust across different measures of labor forcewithdrawal, nor are they consistent acrosspostpartum time intervals. Population Research and Policy Review Springer Journals

Choosing children over career? Changes in the postpartum labor force behavior of professional women

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Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright © 2000 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
Geography; Demography; Economic Policy; Population Economics
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