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Women's employment during pregnancy and after the first birth: Occupational characteristics and work commitment

Desai, Sonalde and Linda J., Waite (1991): Women's employment during pregnancy and after the first birth: Occupational characteristics and work commitment. Published in: American Sociological Review , Vol. 56, (August 1991): pp. 551-566.

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Abstract

We examine the argumenthat predominantly female occupations attract women because they are relatively easy to combine with family responsibilities. Some traditionally female occupations offer relatively low penalties for labor force withdrawal, but other 'female" occupations reduce the costs of employment to mothers by facilitating the combination of worker and mother roles. We test the hypothesis that a woman's response to the character�istics of her occupation and to other factors depends on her preference for employment vs. homemaking over the long run. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, the analysis focuses on the periodfrom the year prior to thefirst birth through the two years following the birth as the time of maximum conflict between employment and child rearing. We find no effect of occupational sex composition on the likelihood that prospective or re�cent mothers ame employed. Occupational characteristics that raise the cost of labor force withdrawal (high education, wages, and job-specific training) tend to decrease the probabil�ity of women's withdrawal from work, as do nonmonetary occupational characteristics. All women respond to the cost of laborforce withdrawal, but women with low work commitment also respond tofinancial pressures and convenience of the work setting

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