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CEP discussion paper

Employment After Motherhood: A European Comparison

There is theoretical evidence that economic and family policies have an important impact on mother's employment. The aim of this article is to study empirically the women's transitions from employment to non-employment after they have their first birth in Belgium, West-Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The paper investigates the evolution of post-birth employment across time and how these shifts are related to - cross-country - different policies and society. We also test if the withdrawal from work is due to marriage or to motherhood. Results show that Spain and West-Germany are the countries with the lowest rates of staying on in the labour market after childbearing. Higher education is a key explanatory factor of the probability of post-birth employment in all countries, except for Sweden. In the period 1973-93, Belgian and especially Spanish mothers increased their probability of post-birth employment, ceteris paribus. The opposite movement occurred in West-Germany. Italy and Sweden remained fairly constant. This trend is mainly explained by the taxation system (joint vs. separate), education and part-time employment.

Maria Gutierrez-Domenech

May 2003     Paper Number CEPDP0567

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