Work-family attitudes and career interruptions due to childbirth

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This paper examines the impact of attitudes on gender roles, work and the family on the duration of career-interruptions due to childbirth. Using latent class analysis, three different classes of mothers are identified based on their attitudes: home-oriented, adaptive and career-oriented mothers. Controlling for observable individual and family characteristics as well as the institutional and economic environment, it is shown that home-oriented mothers have more children and take longer leaves for each child than adaptive mothers, who themselves take longer leaves than career-oriented mothers. The difference is more marked among mothers who have been working the last quarter before giving birth: while 80 % of the career-oriented mothers return to work after 6 months, only 70 % of home-oriented mothers do so. Pre-motherhood and pre-labor-market attitudes of mothers are used in the determination of classes to avoid reverse causation of motherhood and work experiences on attitudes. These results cast doubts on the effectiveness of one-size-fits-all-policies and make the case for flexible policies that allow for different combinations of wages and maternity-leaves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-205
Number of pages29
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Career interruptions
  • Female labor force participation
  • Latent class analysis
  • Maternity leave
  • Survival analysis


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