Single Mothers' Employment Dynamics and Adolescent Well-Being

Ariel Kalil, University of Chicago
Kathleen M. Ziol-Guest, University of Chicago

Researchers have been concerned with the largely unaddressed question of the links between single mother job characteristics and child well-being. In this paper, we use data from a nationally-representative sample of single mothers whose employment experiences we observe over a two-year period during the mid-to-late 1990's. We link employment patterns to change over time in multiple measures of child well-being. Controlling for background characteristics and potential selection factors, we find that, relative to being continuously employed in a good job, teens whose mothers lose a job without re-employment show a decline in self-esteem; those whose mothers are continually employed in a bad job are more at risk for grade repetition; and those whose mothers are persistently out of the labor force or lose more than one job show an increased likelihood of school drop-out. These effects are largely unexplained by changes in family income over the two-year period.

  See paper

Presented in Session 40: Welfare, Maternal Employment, and Adolescents