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CEP discussion paper
The Employment of Married Mothers in Great Britain: 1974-2000
Paul Gregg, Maria Gutierrez-Domenech and Jane Waldfogel
December 2003
Paper No' CEPDP0596:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: J10; J22

Tags: married women's employment; maternity policies

This paper analyses the increase in mothers¿ employment in Britain over the period 1974¿2000. The approach consists of isolating those birth cohorts whose mothers experienced significant increases in employment and relating those to changes in policies (maternity rights, taxation and childcare). The results suggest that maternity rights have induced a change in behaviour, toward returning to work in the first year post-birth, among many mothers who would have otherwise gone back to work when their children were age 3 to 5. This effect has been most marked among better-educated and higher paid mothers and has strengthened as real wages have risen through time. However, the paper also suggests that the increased labour market experience and job tenure of mothers as a result of maternity rights legislation has only had a very modest impact on earnings. This is as a result of most of the extra experience being part-time which has very low returns.