Birth-related employment interruptions among mothers in Norway. Trends and variation

Ragni Hege Kitterød, Statistics Norway
Marit Rønsen, Statistics Norway

In Norway, like in the other Scandinavian countries, the dual-earner/equal-sharing family model with two full-time earners is an important political ambition. However, high part-time rates and extended employment interruption following the birth of a child suggest a strong preference for family time and leisure among many women. Since lengthy employment interruption may have negative consequences both at the individual level and for society at large, it is important to disentangle the factors that promote a faster return to the labour market after child birth. While women’s birth-related career interruptions have been the topic of much research at the international level in the last decades, there is a great need for updated analyses in Norway, where the most recent analyses cover the 1970s and 1980s. In this paper we look at mothers’ career breaks following child birth from the 1990s and till the present, based on the panel in the Norwegian Labour Force Surveys. Utilising a multivariate hazard rate model, we explore possible changes in the length of mothers’ employment interruptions, and look at variation across groups depending on individual and household characteristics. Furthermore, we investigate the role of business cycles and family-policy expansion, and explore whether mothers work full time or part time when they return to work following the birth of a child. Several family-policy reforms that may affect women’s employment decision have been implemented in the last decades, but the possible effects are not easily predictable. Regarding differences between groups of women we are particularly interested in the effect of educational attainment since a family model with two full-time working parents has less support among low educated than highly educated parents. We shall employ a competing risk model where the career interruption has three possible outcomes: a full-time job, a part-time job or no employment entry.

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Presented in Session 40: Motherhood and employment