Female Labor Force Participation and Child Outcomes

Project Details

Investigators: Dirgha J. Ghimire, Co-PI, Sarah R. Brauner-Otto, Co-PI, Sarah Baird, Co-I.

Description: Women comprise an increasingly larger share of the non-family labor market across the globe. This transition alters family dynamics—both theory and empirical evidence point toward important influences on the health and educational outcomes of children. Although previous research has explored this relationship, those efforts have been unsuccessful in separating the influence of women’s labor-force participation from other concurrent changes happening at the community and household level, such as changing market structures and increasing employment opportunities or changing employment experiences of other household members. Additionally, most of the existing research has been conducted in wealthy countries where this transition occurred decades prior. This proposal aims to study the relationship between mother’s employment experiences and child outcomes in a poor, subsistence agricultural setting currently transitioning from almost no participation of women in the non-family labor market to increasing participation of women in the non-family labor market (formal sector). This setting provides a unique opportunity to estimate the influence of women’s participation in the non-family labor market in the very early stage of transition, an empirical opportunity not possible in economically advance settings. We propose to use long-term, multilevel panel data from a rural, poor international setting, covering the very beginning of this fundamental transition in household dynamics through the present day. The data we propose to use have multiple measures of child outcomes, specifically educational enrollment and attainment, height and weight, subjective health, immunization status, and child mortality. It also contains complete employment histories of mothers including multiple types of non-family labor (i.e. wage labor, salary jobs, out of home businesses). Importantly, these data also provide longitudinal data on community characteristics such as nearby employers and complete employment histories for other adult household members. The findings from this study will reveal important information about the processes influencing child well-being throughout the world.

Coverage: Nepal.

Sponsor: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. R03 HD086301. $171,627. 2016-2018.