Using data on over 10,000 person-spells of non-employment lasting 2 months or longer in the NLSY79, my dissertation examines how women’s reasons for job exit, motherhood status, and education affect 1) the probability and timing of their return to work, 2) whether they change occupation and industry of employment between the jobs they left and the jobs they return to, and 3) whether and how women change work hours and wages between the jobs they left and the jobs they return to. Women’s exits have been studied widely, yet little is known about who returns to work. But, returning to work likely has important consequences for the well-being of women and their families. As would be expected given the high overall labor force participation rates of women in the 1980s to 2010s, nearly all women who spend two months or more not employed eventually return to work, although the timing of their reentry and the duration of their exit from employment vary greatly. Women who leave for family reasons tend to postpone re-employment for around a year longer than women who leave for other reasons; this difference is largest for women who have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most women (51-76%, depending on classification scheme) who leave jobs and are observed returning to work change both occupation and industry upon returning to work, although change is less likely when leaving a job in occupations/industries with greater training and/or licensing requirements. On average, women who leave jobs and are observed returning to work do not experience a change in hourly wage, while they tend to return to jobs with about two fewer weekly work hours. Women who leave for family reasons and/or have children while away from employment tend to return to fewer work hours. Wages upon return are also predicted to be lower when women have children while away from employment. Results for changes in occupation/industry and job conditions upon return to work largely reflect a story of accumulated advantage, where women with more education (and thus likely more material resources) tend to return to jobs with higher wages, greater work hours, higher occupation/industry median income, and greater occupation/industry percent with a bachelor’s degree, controlling for the characteristics of the jobs they left. Even so, women who take time away from work for family care or other reasons still miss out on retirement contributions, including social security, during the time when they are not employed, which can erode their financial security at older ages. Thus there are potentially negative impacts on the financial well-being of women who leave and return to work, even if they are able to return to similarly paid jobs after taking time away from employment.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2017. Major: Sociology. Advisor: Phyllis Moen. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 191 pages.
Kaduk, Anne Elizabeth.
Women Returning to Work Across the Life Course: Who Does It, Why, and What Do They Return To?.
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