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Job Choices, Flexibility and Maternal Labor Force Participation

By Samantha Cox

While there are countless studies concerning the effects of various variables on female labor force participation, there are still many unexamined intricacies involved in a woman’s choice to enter, re-enter or leave the work force. This paper attempts to extend on previous research and examine how the flexibility of a woman’s job influences her return to work after the birth of her first child. The findings support the results found in previous models which find a relationship between family size, hourly wage rate, other household income and age at first birth. The results further sought to address the elusive concept of culture’s effect on a woman’s labor decisions by using the woman’s religiosity. Most intrical to this research is the creation of two flexibility indices, one regarding occupation choice and one regarding industry choice, and the varying effect of these variables as well as the aforementioned explanatory variables over time. Using hazard analysis, a positive, significant relationship was established between the flexibility indices and the dependent variable when the influence of time was held constant. Also found was a positive relationship linking the likelihood of a woman returning to work after the birth of her first child, considering she has not already done so, with the interaction of the flexibility indices over time. Only the term interacting with the industry index was found to be significant.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: D1, J13, J24 | Tagged: Economics, Hazard/Survival Models, Industry, Labor Decisions, Maternity, Occupation, Women

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