Maternal Employment Trajectories and Caring for an Infant or Toddler with a Disability

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 06/16

Date: 2016

Author(s):

Anna Zhu

Abstract

Mothers caring for an infant or toddler continue to face barriers in returning to work after child birth. Mothers caring for an infant or toddler with a disability, however, may face even greater barriers. This paper contributes to the literature by exploring the employment costs for this group of mothers using a novel Australian administrative data set. The employment patterns of mothers with and without a disabled infant or toddler are compared both before and after child birth. The data follow 7,600 mothers on a bi-weekly basis for the entire period 12 months before and the 24 months after child birth and contain information on the disability status of the child, measures of employment and the intensity of employment. I find that mothers of disabled toddlers and infants suffer employment disadvantages relative to mothers of non-disabled children. The employment gaps grow from approximately six percentage points shortly after their children are born to 14-17 percentage points when their children are 12 to 24 months old. The employment gaps exist for full-time employment as well as for short part-time employment