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The Impact of Child and Maternal Health Indicators on Female Labor Force Participation after Childbirth: Evidence for Germany

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

C. Katharina Spieß, Annalena Dunkelberg

In: Journal of Comparative Family Studies 40 (2009), 1, S. 119-138


This paper analyzes the influence of child health and maternal physical and mental health on female labor force participation after childbirth in Germany. Our analysis is based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, which enables us to measure child health based on the occurrence of severe health problems including mental and physical disabilities, hospitalizations, and preterm births. Since child health is measured in SOEP at a very young age, we can rule out the reverse effects of maternal employment on child health that appeared in US studies. We investigate the influence of these indicators on various aspects of female labor force participation after childbirth within a two-year time period, including continuous labor force participation in the year of childbirth and the transition to employment in the year following childbirth. Since the majority of women in Germany do not go back to work within the first two years after childbirth, we also investigate their intention to return to work and their preferred number of working hpurs. We find that severe child health problems have a significant negative effect on maternal labor force participation and a significant positive effect on mothers' preferred number of working hours, while hospitalizations and preterm births have no significant effect. For maternal health, we find a significant negative effect of poor maternal mental and physical health on female labor force participation within a year of childbirth. To our knowledge, this is the first empirical study of this kind using data from outside the US.