Bad Jobs in America: The Effect of Maternal Work Conditions on Children's Cognitive Outcomes

Amy Hsin, University of Michigan
Christina Felfe, University of St.Gallen

We examine the relationship between maternal work conditions and children’s cognitive outcomes, using the 1997 and 2002 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics-Child Development Supplement and the Occupational Information Network (O*Net). Additionally, we consider whether the deleterious effects of “bad” jobs work through the quantity and type of mother-child time. The results suggest that poor work conditions (e.g., exposure to stressful social contact and physical hazards) are associated with lower verbal scores among children. More importantly, the results show that time with children may be a mechanism through which occupations influence child outcomes. Bad jobs exert negative effects because exposure to stressful and hazardous occupations (1) change the types of activities mothers perform with children and (2) change the effect of maternal time on child outcomes (For mothers exposed to poor work conditions, developmental time with children has a positive effect whereas non-development time has a negative effect).

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Presented in Session 13: Parental Work and Children’s Lives