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Family Update, Online!

Volume 05  Issue 39 28 September 2004
Topic: Who Really Pays?

Family Fact: Working Moms

Family Quote: Lethal Childhood Wounds

Family Research Abstract: Teens and Moms at Home

Family Fact of the Week: Working Moms TOP of PAGE

An estimated 12,702,710 American women with children at home were employed year-round, and full-time in 1999.

(Source: Daniel H. Weinberg, "Evidence From Census 2000 About Earnings by Detailed Occupation for Men and Women," CENSR-15, U. S. Census Bureau, May 2004 http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-15.pdf .)

 

Family Quote of the Week: Lethal Childhood Wounds TOP of PAGE

"The authors of the new study quite plausibly interpret their findings as corroboration of 'prior studies that reported that two-biological-parent households are best able to invest in offspring's' well-being.'  Perhaps the current prevalence of maternal employment kept the researchers from further pointing out that even in two-biological-parent households, it is the at-home mother whose investments in her offspring can best ensure long life."  

(Source: "Lethal Childhood Wounds," New Research, May 2004, abstract of Mark D. Hayward and Bridget K. Gorman, "The Long Arm of Childhood: The Influence of Early-Life Social Conditions on Men's Mortality," Demography 41 [2004]: 87-107.)

 

For More Information TOP of PAGE

The Howard Center and The World Congress of Families stock a number of pro-family books, including Day Care: Child Psychology & Adult Economics, edited by Bryce Christensen. Please visit:

    The Howard Center Bookstore   

 Call: 1-815-964-5819    USA: 1-800-461-3113    Fax: 1-815-965-1826    Contact: Bookstore 

934 North Main Street Rockford, Illinois 61103

Family Research Abstract of the Week: Teens and Moms at Home TOP of PAGE

Given the economic disadvantage that one-earner families face relative to two-earner families, a traditional family often faces pressure to have the mother join the paid labor force once the children head off to school, when the mothers' duties in the home are presumably reduced, or perhaps when the children reach high school. Yet a new study by Charles L. Baum of Middle Tennessee State University warns that maternal employment during the child's adolescent years significantly reduces academic grades for both boys and girls.

Baum uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which has, since 1994, been collecting information biannually of the children (ages 15 to 20) of mothers who have been interviewed annually by the survey. His 1998 sample included 1,198 children who had been born between 1978 and 1983, 40 percent of whom had been born to a teenage mother. The children in the sample are disproportionately black and Hispanic.

While his initial model positively correlated high school grades with maternal employment (although without statistical significance), his second model separated maternal employment in the early childhood years, the preadolescent years, and the adolescent years. While maternal employment remained positively related to grades in the first two age categories, adolescent maternal employment yielded a small, but negative effect on grades. A third model, using multivariate regression analysis that controlled for differences not caused by maternal employment, found adolescent maternal employment yielding a statistically significant negative effect on grades.

Moreover, when controls for background characteristics were added, the positive associations found in Models 1 and 2 were actually reversed. That is, maternal employment became substantially more negative when the mother's education and scores on the Armed Forces Qualifications Test were controlled. "Thus, failure to control for the mother's education levels results in maternal employment spuriously appearing to enhance grades."

As his sample was disproportionately low-income, Baum tested the data with models that controlled for family income and discovered that, contrary to popular opinion, the effect of maternal employment on high school grades was not less detrimental in families where the mother's earnings represent a larger portion of family income - including single parents families - or more negative in higher income families. He concludes, "These results would suggest that the total effect of maternal employment ... is more negative than previously reported."

The robustness of these findings suggest that if policy makers really care about leaving no high school student behind, they would be wise to think more about how to encourage mothers to stay at home and less about processing bureaucratic red tape from Washington that presumably holds local schools accountable.

(Source: Charles L. Baum, "The Long-Term Effects of Early and Recent Maternal Employment on the Child's Academic Achievement," Journal of Family Issues 25 [2004]: 29-60.)
 

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