Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers, 1961-2008

Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers, 1961-2008
Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns of First-Time Mothers, 1961-2008
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Current Population Reports, Household Economic Studies, P70-128.

This report examines trends in maternity leave and the employment patterns of women who gave birth to their first child between January 1961 and December 2008. The report first analyzes trends in women’s work experience prior to their first birth and the factors associated with employment during pregnancy. Changes are placed in the historical context of the enactment of family-related legislation during the last quarter of the twentieth century. The next section identifies the maternity leave arrangements used by women before and after their first birth and the shifts that have occurred in the mix of leave arrangements that are used. The final section examines how rapidly mothers return to work after their first birth and the factors related to the length of time they are absent from the labor force.

In addition to updating childbearing, employment, and maternity leave trends through the 1990s, the report provides details on changes many new mothers experience in the number of hours worked, pay level, and job-skill level after the first birth. These changes are examined in relation to whether a woman returned to the same employer she had during pregnancy or changed employers after the birth of the child. This report also examines how various social and economic factors are related to the timing of new mothers returning to work.


Expectant mothers would find this report interesting when planning to return to the workforce or planning their maternity leave. In addition, employers may find this helpful in creating maternity leave policies for their employees.  Researchers and students interested in maternity leave and women's studies may want to consult this resource for authoritative information.

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Commerce Dept., Economics and Statistics Administration, Census Bureau
  • Laughlin, Lynda
Key Phrases:
  • Current Population Reports, P70, No. 128
  • Maternity Leave
  • Employment
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