NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Maternal Employment on Children's Academic Performance

Rachel Dunifon, Anne Toft Hansen, Sean Nicholson, Lisbeth Palmhøj Nielsen

NBER Working Paper No. 19364
Issued in August 2013
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS

Using a Danish data set that follows 135,000 Danish children from birth through 9th grade, we examine the effect of maternal employment during a child’s first three and first 15 years on that child’s grade point average in 9th grade. We address the endogeneity of employment by including a rich set of household control variables, instrumenting for employment with the gender- and education-specific local unemployment rate, and by including maternal fixed effects. We find that maternal employment has a positive effect on children’s academic performance in all specifications, particularly when women work part-time. This is in contrast with the larger literature on maternal employment, much of which takes place in other contexts, and which finds no or a small negative effect of maternal employment on children’s cognitive development and academic performance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19364

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