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CEP discussion paper

Early maternal employment and non-cognitive outcomes in early childhood and adolescence: evidence from British birth cohort data


We analyse the relationship between early maternal employment and child emotional and behavioural outcomes in early childhood and adolescence. Using rich data from a cohort of children born in the UK in the early 1990s, we find little evidence of a strong statistical relationship between early maternal employment and any of the emotional outcomes. However, there is some evidence that children whose mother is in full-time employment at the 18th month have worse behavioural outcomes at ages 4, 7, and 12. We suggest that these largely insignificant results may in part be explained by mothers who return to full-time work earlier being able to compensate their children: we highlight the role of fathers’ time investment and alternative childcare arrangements in this respect.


Andrew E. Clark, Warn N. Lekfuangfu, Nattavudh Powdthavee and George Ward

28 October 2015     Paper Number CEPDP1380

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.