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Mothers’ Labor Supply in Fragile Families: The Role of Child Health.

May 2004

Hope Corman, Rider University, National Bureau of Economic Research; Nancy E. Reichman, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Kelly Noonan, Rider University, National Bureau of Economic Research.

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We estimate the effect of poor child health on the labor supply of mothers post welfare reform, using a national sample of mostly unwed parents and their children—a group at high risk of living in poverty. We address the potential endogeneity of child health and find that having a young child in poor health reduces the mother’s probability of working by eight percentage points and her hours of work by three per week when she is employed. These results suggest that children’s health problems may diminish their families’ capacity to invest in their health.

Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market, Health, Health Insurance, and Health Care