Abstract

We examine how changes in maternal work hours affect adolescent children’s school participation and performance outcomes using data from interviews in 1998 and 2001 with approximately 1,700 women who, in May 1995, were welfare-reliant, single mothers of adolescents living in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty in Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, and Philadelphia counties. Analyses control for a broad array of mothers’ characteristics, including their psychological and physical health, experiences with domestic violence and substance abuse, as well as unobserved time-invariant characteristics. In fixed-effects models, we find unfavorable effects of increased maternal work hours on three of six outcomes: skipping school, performing above average, and parental contact about behavior problems. Adolescent-aged sons seem to be particularly sensitive to changes in mothers’ hours of work.

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