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Journal article

The effect of a first born child on work and childcare time allocation: pre-post analysis of Australian couples

24 Feb 2016

This paper uses Australian data from a national representative sample of Australian couples having their first child. Using data from before and after the birth of the child on a range of variables, including economic resources, gender attitudes, workplace flexibility, and availability of non-parental childcare, we first model the factors are associated with the decision to remain in work or not after the birth of the first child. The main finding here is that childbirth has a major impact on mothers’ paid work-time, whereas for fathers it has very little impact. Factors that are related to a mother’s decision to remain in work or not include the absolute (but not relative) pay of each parent, the father’s workplace flexibility, and paid parental leave available to the mother. We then model the factors that govern, for those mothers remaining in paid work, how much paid work they undertake. We find that changing employers is related to mothers’ work hours, as are absolute post-birth salaries, as is the relative pay of each partner. As with the decision to work or not, the availability of paid parental leave to the mother is significantly related to the amount of work-time for those mothers that do continue to work. Similarly, the use of external childcare is positively associated with maternal work hours. Finally, we model the factors that determine childcare time allocation and find that for neither parent do pre-birth economic resources significantly affect childcare time, once a decision about basic work patterns has been made. Gender role attitudes affect childcare time decisions, unlike work time decisions.

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