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THE EFFECT OF MATERNAL EMPLOYMENT AND CHILD CARE ON CHILDREN'S COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT*

Authors

  • Raquel Bernal

    1. Universidad de los Andes, Colombia
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    • 1

      I am grateful to Michael Keane for his guidance and support. I want to acknowledge helpful comments from Donghoon Lee, Petra Todd, Raquel Fernandez, Chris Ferrall, Christopher Flinn, Chris Taber, Zvi Eckstein, Ken Wolpin, and participants of seminars at NYU, Queen's University, Minnesota, UT Austin, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Brown, Rochester, Penn State, Yale, Carnegie Mellon, Western Ontario, and Northwestern. The extended comments of three anonymous referees were extremely valuable in improving this work. I gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Colombian Central Bank and New York University. Please address correspondence to: R. Bernal, Economics Department and CEDE, Universidad de los Andes, Carrera 1 # 18A-70, Of. E-108, Bogota, Colombia. E-mail: rbernal@uniandes.edu.co.


  • *

    Manuscript received March 2004; revised October 2005.

Abstract

This article develops and estimates a dynamic model of employment and child care decisions of women after childbirth to evaluate the effects of these choices on children's cognitive ability. We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate it. Results indicate that the effects of maternal employment and child care on children's ability are negative and sizable. Having a mother that works full-time and uses child care during one year is associated with a reduction in ability test scores of approximately 1.8% (0.13 standard deviations). We assess the impact of policies related to parental leave and child care on children's outcomes.

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