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Early maternal employment and children’s school readiness in contemporary families

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Lombardi, Caitlin McPherran & Coley, Rebekah Levine
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2014



This study assessed whether previous findings linking early maternal employment to lower cognitive and behavioral skills among children generalized to modern families. Using a representative sample of children born in the United States in 2001 (N  10,100), ordinary least squares regression models weighted with propensity scores assessed links between maternal employment in the 2 years after childbearing and children’s school readiness skills at kindergarten. There were neutral associations between maternal employment and children’s school readiness, which were not differentiated by maternal time, stress, or wages. However, as nonmaternal household income decreased, maternal employment begun prior to 9 months was linked with higher cognitive skills, while employment begun between 9 and 24 months was linked with lower conduct problems.