This study examines whether maternal employment affects the health status of low-income, elementary-school-aged children using instrumental variables estimation and experimental data from a welfare-to-work program implemented in the early 1990s. Maternal report of child health status is predicted as a function of exogenous variation in maternal employment associated with random assignment to the experimental group. IV estimates show a modest adverse effect of maternal employment on children's health. Making use of data from another welfare-to-work program we propose that any adverse effect on child health may be tempered by increased family income and access to public health insurance coverage, findings with direct relevance to a number of current policy discussions. In a secondary analysis using fixed effects techniques on longitudinal survey data collected in 1998 and 2001, we find a comparable adverse effect of maternal employment on child health that supports the external validity of our primary result.
- Children's health
- Maternal employment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health