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Journal Article

Childbirth and cohort effects on mothers' labour supply: a comparative study using life history data for Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain


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The negative effect of childbirth on mothers’ labour supply is well documented, though most studies examine only the short-term effects. This study uses retrospective life history data for Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain to investigate the long-term effects of childbirth on mothers’ labour supply for successive birth cohorts. Probit estimates with correction for selection into motherhood and the number of births show strong drops in participation before first childbirths and strong recovery after the birth of the last child, especially in Great Britain. Younger cohorts display a less sharp decline in participation around childbirth and a faster increase in participation in the 20 years after childbirth, especially in the Netherlands. However, mothers’ participation rates do not return to pre-birth levels in any of the countries studied here. Labour market conditions and institutional public support seem to contribute to explaining the cross-country variation in participation after childbirth.

Published in

Work, Employment and Society


24 (3):487-507



Labour Market, Childbearing: Fertility, and Life Course Analysis



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