Global Issues and Policy Solutions
Chapter 3: Conceptual Framework
A better understanding of the channels through which maternal employment affects children’s health and nutritional status can contribute to more effective policy responses to reduce malnutrition among children in developing countries, lessen the risk of obesity among children in industrialized countries, and improve other indicators of child health and well-being. Improving the health and nutritional status of children globally, in turn, can lead to major and long-term benefits for individuals and for societies as a whole. Investments in children affect future productivity because such investments contribute to the development of capabilities, and capabilities in turn lead to improved socioeconomic status and health later in life.1 At the macroeconomic level, human capital development serves as one of the principal driving forces behind economic growth. Maternal participation in the labor market, however, can entail a fundamental trade-off. The income that mothers earn contributes to the household’s ability to purchase goods and services that improve children’s health and nutritional status. However, mothers’ market-based work could reduce the quantity or quality of time spent caring for children, with potentially adverse effects on child well-being. Just like household income, time spent with children also affects the degree to which mothers can engage in care practices that influence child development and health, particularly during early years when children are most dependent on their mothers. Absence from children while working in the labor market could reduce the ability of mothers to engage with their children and make decisions about their health inputs. Mothers may have less time...
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