Mothers' employment participation: the role of partner involvement and selection processes
23 Jan 2021
This paper examines how a couple's division of housework and child care affects mothers' postnatal work hours, taking into account selection processes.
Past research on mothers' employment suggests that male partners' involvement in domestic work is positively associated with mothers' employment participation. However, it is unknown to what extent this association is driven by selection processes, rather than partner behavior. This paper examines whether selection processes may jointly determine a couple's division of domestic work and a mother's postnatal work hours, and therefore account for the relationship between partner involvement in domestic work and a mother's work hours.
Using data from the 1991 to 2008 waves of the British Household Panel, this study employs structural equation modeling and fixed effects regression. The analyses account for multiple characteristics that may determine women's selection into egalitarian work–family arrangements.
The findings show that selection effects do indeed play a role: The male partner's involvement in housework and child care does not significantly affect most mothers' postnatal work hours when selection effects are taken into account. Only mothers who are highly disadvantaged on the labor market—those with low income and educational attainment—benefit from the partner's involvement in child care, but not housework, in terms of their postnatal employment.
Mothers who are strongly disadvantaged on the labor market benefit most from family policies that encourage their partner's involvement in child care.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
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