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Is employment during motherhood a ‘value changing experience’?

Borrell Porta, Mireia, Contreras Silva, Valentina and Costa-Font, Joan ORCID: 0000-0001-7174-7919 (2023) Is employment during motherhood a ‘value changing experience’? Advances in Life Course Research, 56. ISSN 1040-2608

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.alcr.2023.100528


We study whether the experience of ‘employment during motherhood’ (EDM) exerts an effect on attitudes towards the welfare effects of EDM, which proxy gender norms with regards to employment. We examine unique evidence from a large, representative, and longitudinal data set that collects attitudinal data over about a decade in the United Kingdom. We draw on an instrumental variable (IV) strategy that exploits variation in local labour markets using a Bartik instrument for employment to address the potential endogeneity of EDM experience in explaining attitudes. We find that both childless women who work and mothers who do not work are more likely to agree with the statement that ’pre-school children suffer if their mothers work’, which we interpret as more traditional gender values. However, this is not the case for women who work and have children. These findings suggest that motherhood confirms individuals’ priors, and suggest that EDM is a value preserving rather than a value changing experience. These results suggest that the so-called ‘motherhood penalty’ in employment trajectories cannot be fully explained by a change in attitudes after giving birth.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: European Institute
Social Policy
Health Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J2 - Time Allocation, Work Behavior, and Employment Determination and Creation; Human Capital; Retirement > J22 - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2023 10:00
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2024 01:15

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