Maternal Employment and Child Health

Maternal Employment and Child Health

Global Issues and Policy Solutions

Yana van der Meulen Rodgers

As women’s labor force participation has risen around the globe, scholarly and policy discourse on the ramifications of this employment growth has intensified. This book explores the links between maternal employment and child health using an international perspective that is grounded in economic theory and rigorous empirical methods.

Chapter 4: Existing Evidence on Maternal Employment and Child Health

Yana van der Meulen Rodgers

Subjects: asian studies, asian economics, economics and finance, asian economics, health policy and economics, labour economics, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


The literature on maternal employment and child well-being covers more than six decades of research across a number of disciplines. Rather than review such a large body of work in its entirety, this chapter presents some of the main themes and common findings across studies on the impact of maternal employment on children’s cognitive development, behavioral outcomes, and health status. The discussion communicates any consensus that may have emerged over time, together with examples of findings. Data availability and quality have contributed to a relative abundance of research on maternal employment and child well-being in industrialized countries, especially studies that measure impacts on children’s cognitive development and behavioral outcomes. As more household-level survey data on health and living standards in developing countries have become readily available, a growing number of researchers have turned to developing countries to examine how maternal employment affects child health and nutritional status. Hence this chapter on maternal employment and child well-being examines industrialized and developing country patterns separately. CHILDREN’S COGNITIVE AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES Young Children A large amount of literature has examined the relationship between maternal employment and children’s cognitive development and behavioral outcomes in industrialized countries. As industrialized countries have seen a surge in the proportion of employed women with very young children, this subject has become the topic of growing discourse in academia and the media. Earlier studies in the 1980s and 1990s found that maternal employment has a range of effects on cognitive and social development, from positive to...

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