[Excerpt] This Beyond the Numbers article examines work patterns in the lives of young adults in the year after they have their first child. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth of 1997 and 1979 (NLSY97 and NLSY79 respectively), we compare men and women born between 1980 and 1984 with men and women born between 1957 and 1964 to see how labor force participation among new moms and dads has changed. This analysis looks at individuals who had a first child between the ages of 18 and 24 and compares them to individuals of the same age without children. The NLSY97 and NLSY79 collect information about the timing of births and individuals’ weekly work history, allowing for a comparison of labor force participation after the birth of a child.We analyze how different variables, such as age, educational status, employment status, race and ethnicity, and presence of fathers and mothers in the household, influence the labor market experience of young parents.
Our data indicate that although women typically continue to take more time out of the labor force after the birth of a child than do men, differences have been narrowing. However, this narrowing is largely the result of increased labor force participation of mothers in the year after giving birth, rather than decreased labor force participation among new fathers.