The Role of Age at First Birth on Married Mothers’ Labor Force Transitions: A Life Course Perspective
Kristin Smith, University of Maryland
This paper explores how the timing of the transition to parenthood is associated with later labor force transitions among married mothers with children. Using the SIPP 1996 panel, I find that married mothers who begin family building at early ages are more likely to exit the labor force than those who begin “on-time,” consistent with neoclassical economic theory. However, I also find that married mothers who begin childbearing at late ages are more likely to exit the labor force than those who begin “on-time,” which contradicts neoclassical economic theory. The life course perspective provides a rationale for differential impacts on labor force participation depending on the age at first birth due to its attention to the timing of events and their consequences. Models are then stratified by age at first birth to examine how the co-variates differentially influence married mothers’ labor force exits depending on the age at first birth.