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Maternal employment trajectories and caring for an infant or toddler with a disability

A. Zhu,

Academic Literature


Mothers caring for an infant or toddler continue to face barriers in returning to work after child birth. Mothers caring for an infant or toddler with a disability, however, may face even greater barriers. This article contributes to the literature by exploring the employment costs for this group of mothers using a novel Australian administrative data set. The employment patterns of mothers with and without a disabled infant or toddler are compared both before and after child birth. The data follow 7600 mothers on a bi-weekly basis for the entire period 12 months before and the 24 months after child birth and contain information on the disability status of the child, measures of employment and the intensity of employment. I find that mothers of disabled toddlers and infants suffer employment disadvantages relative to mothers of non-disabled children. The employment gaps grow from approximately 6 percentage points shortly after their children are born to 14–17 percentage points when their children are 12–24 months old. The employment gaps exist for full-time employment as well as for short part-time employment. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Publication information

Journal/Publication : Applied Economics

Domain/s: Economic participation

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