Maternal Employment, Relative Income, and Child Well-Being: The Effects of Gendered Household Resource Allocation on Children's Cognitive Development Trajectories

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Title: Maternal Employment, Relative Income, and Child Well-Being: The Effects of Gendered Household Resource Allocation on Children's Cognitive Development Trajectories
Author: Wills, Jeremiah B
Advisors: Theodore N. Greenstein, Committee Chair
Maxine P. Atkinson, Committee Member
Feinian Chen, Committee Member
Richard Della Fave, Committee Member
Abstract: In this study, I extend the scholarship on maternal employment and the allocation of household resources by evaluating the effects of mothers' time spent in the labor force and mothers' relative income on children's cognitive development. I use a gendered resource allocation model that recognizes differences in investment preferences between men and women and how women can use increases in their relative earnings to direct greater amounts of family resources towards enrichment goods and services that promote child well-being. Support for this model comes mostly from research conducted outside of the United States. This study contributes to this research literature by using an American sample drawn from the Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979. In addition, I contribute to the research on maternal employment and child outcomes with a longitudinal analysis of children's cognitive development trajectories from age five to 14. I find some negative effects on children's initial levels of cognitive skills for measures of both early and current maternal employment hours. Some of these effects are moderated by race, the supportiveness of children's home environment, and mothers' cognitive skills. Contrary to predictions from a gendered resource allocation model, I find that children's cognitive development is lowest in households in which mothers' and fathers' incomes approximate parity, likely because of a lack of clear specialization in such households. I discuss these findings in terms of theoretical, research, and policy applications.
Date: 2007-04-06
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Sociology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/5231


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