What factors help mothers balance a career and children?

Scoop.it ShareThis


What affects women’s chances of bringing up children, whilst also maintaining a career? A new report highlights what factors have the most impact.

workingmotherThe researcher discovered that 52% of the women with two children were in paid employment and for those with more than two children, 45% were in paid employment.

The new publication reveals what factors contribute to a mother’s likeliness to return to the workplace; they include having accessible childcare, her marital and health status and the age of her youngest child.

The author, Patralekha Ukil from Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata used data from Understanding Society to carry out the research.

The sample included 4,764 women aged 20-45 who have two or more children. In the sample, Patralekha discovered that 52% of the women with two children were in paid employment and for those with more than two children, 45% were in paid employment.

Patralekha then used the data to understand the factors that affect women’s chances of returning to the workplace after having children.

Key findings

  • Being married or living with a partner increases a mother’s probability of being in paid employment.
  • The mother’s access to external childcare facilities, age of her youngest child and health status all have a positive impact.
  • Interestingly, having a third child does not significantly reduce the mother’s probability of having a job.
  • Being foreign born decreases the probability of labour force participation and being a mother of Asian origin also reduces the chances of being part of a workplace.
  • Surprisingly, for the women in the sample, an additional year of education reduces the probability of labour force participation.

The author commented on these interesting findings: “A possible explanation is that more educated women are capable of earning more in their early career years, so they can reduce their labour force participation in later years, with an increase in their family size.”

Policy recommendations

The author commented: “It is obvious that several policies, such as subsidised childcare facilities and maternity leave provisions would allow women to return to work in a much easier manner after childbirth. Childcare facilities in the workplace would reduce the negative effect that children tend to have on maternal labour force participation.”

Having two kids of the same sex increases the chance of third child

The researcher also found that having the first two children of the same sex has a significantly positive effect on the probability having a third child: this corroborates the well-known demographic finding that parents in developed nations prefer to have a ‘balanced family’.

Patralekha commented: “This study finds no particular differences in the gender preference for children – a mother is equally predicted to have a third child if her first two children are sons, than if her first two children are daughters, in stark contrast to Asian nations where there is an established preference for sons.”

Further information     

Download the paper: Effect of Fertility on Female Labour Force Participation in the United Kingdom.