Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr. Wei-Chiao Huang
Dr. Donald Meyer
Dr. Georgiana Onicescu
Maternal employment, child obesity, cognitive development, family well-being, overall health, psychological well-being
This dissertation is composed of three essays on the effect of maternal employment on family well-being using data from Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K: 2011). In general, the findings from this study suggest that the effect of maternal employment on children’s weight status and cognitive development is not significant, but it is significant on mothers’ overall health and psychological well-being.
The first essay re-examines the effect of maternal employment on child obesity by taking a sample of grade 2 children who had at least one younger sibling from the spring 2013 cohort. The study makes use of a bivariate probit model using exogenous variation in youngest sibling’s eligibility for kindergarten as an instrument for maternal employment. The findings suggest that the effect of maternal employment on child obesity is not significant. The results show that rather than maternal employment, socio-economic status, schooling environment, and lifestyle behaviors including physical exercise and sedentary behavior are factors contributing to child obesity. More specifically, higher socio-economic status and more physical exercise are negatively related to child obesity, while sedentary behavior and free/reduced price school meals are positively related to child obesity.
The second essay is devoted to the analysis of the effect of maternal employment on child cognitive outcome. This study uses data from spring 2013 cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K: 2011). Using instrumental variable regression, the result shows that the effect of maternal employment on children’s cognitive development is not significant. The quality of schooling as measured by teachers’ years of experience and class size as well as socio-economic status are significant factors influencing children’s cognitive outcome. Having more experienced teachers and coming from a higher socio-economic background contributes positively to children’s cognitive outcome, while there is some evidence that smaller class size reduces children’s scores.
The third essay investigates the effect of maternal employment on mothers’ overall health and psychological distress. This study makes use of data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 2010-11 (ECLS-K: 2011) and the U.S Bureau of Labor statistics. For analysis, IV probit regression is used, having state-level unemployment rate as an instrument for maternal employment. The findings of this paper suggest that the effect of mothers’ weekly work hours on mothers’ overall health is positive and significant for the spring third-grade cohort. In addition, there is evidence that the effect of maternal employment on mothers’ overall health and psychological distress differs by type of occupation. Mothers in managerial, professional, and low supervisory jobs are more likely to be psychologically distressed, but also have higher probability of being in good overall health condition, compared to mothers in manual jobs.
Agiro, Bezawit Teshome, "The Effect of Maternal Employment on Family Well-Being" (2018). Dissertations. 3275.