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 5: Data and Methodology

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


This book contributes to the body of research described in the preceding chapters with new developing country evidence on how children’s nutritional status varies with maternal employment. In order to better focus the study on a single developing region, empirical tests use data for nine South and Southeast Asian countries: Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan in South Asia; and Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia. Not only does focusing on a single region make the analysis more manageable, this strategy also lends itself to constructing a sample comprised of countries with fairly comparable historical and cultural contexts relative to using data from countries across different regions. To identify mechanisms for the association between maternal employment and children’s nutritional status, the methodology utilizes three measures of poor nutritional status in young children: small birth size, stunting (low heightfor-age), and wasting (low weight-for-height). Each of these measures captures a different aspect of child growth and development. Birth size is affected by factors that operate during the period of gestation, including genetic influences, mothers’ antenatal nutrition, and health. Stunting and wasting are affected by factors that operate after a child is born, including environmental exposure, the child’s nutritional intake, illnesses, and other external factors that are influenced by both socio-economic factors and the physical environment.1 By contrasting the three different nutritional outcomes, one can differentiate between patterns that result from influences that take place before parents know the sex of their child, and patterns that result from behaviors after...

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