Does Care Matter? Care Capital and Mothers’ Time to Paid Employment

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The aim of this study is to introduce the concept of care capital and provide an example of its application in the context of child care and maternal employment using the currently most suitable American data. We define care capital as the nexus of available, accessible, and experienced resources for care. The American setting is an ideal context to investigate the linkages between child care capital and maternal employment as the patterns of child care use tend to be more diverse compared to other national context. In the presented application of care capital, we examine mothers’ entry to paid employment during the first 36 weeks following a birth, and its association with experienced non-parental child care use before labor force entry. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey – Birth Cohort (N = 10,400 mothers), results from discrete-time hazard models show that use of non-parental child care prior to employment is independently and positively associated with the timing of maternal employment entry. This finding applies both to first-time mothers (n = 3,800) and to mothers of multiple children (n = 6,600). Although data currently available for investigating child care capital holds limitations with regard to care availability and access, our results suggests that child care understood as a form of capital alongside economic and human capital, should be considered in future studies of maternal employment.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Population Research
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)237-252
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ID: 108080653