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Time to Choose

How Free Preschool, Longer School Days and Affordable Day Care Help Keep Moms in the Workforce

By By Liana C. Sayer, Leah Ruppaner and Stephanie Moller

Woman walking with small children

Photo by Shutterstock

Mothers of young children who live in areas with affordable childcare and all-day preschool, among other factors, are more likely to return to full-time work, new research indicates.

If young mothers of small children had their druthers, would they return full-time to the workforce?

To find out, sociology Professor Liana Sayer, director of the Maryland Time Use Laboratory at the University of Maryland, along with colleagues at the University of Melbourne and the University of North Carolina, examined the complex economic decisions families have to make balancing child care costs, earnings and career objectives.

They reported their findings yesterday in The Conversation.

Women now account for half the nation’s working-age population, but only 43% of full-time workers.

One reason for that is what happens when they have young children. Only about two-thirds of moms with kids under 6 work full-time, versus more than three-quarters of moms whose youngest child is between 6 and 17.

Working while balancing the demands of motherhood isn’t easy. Things that come along with children—like nighttime feedings, diaper changes and mountains of laundry—are time-consuming to do yourself and expensive to pay someone else to do.

We have spent decades studying how American families spend their time, why some families are more prone to economic hardship and which policies help families thrive. We teamed up to see whether mothers in states with relatively lower child care costs are more likely than others to be employed once they have children.

Read the rest in The Conversation.

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