It is well known that, compared with other developed countries, the labor participation rate of married women in Japan is low. With the decrease of labor force due to an aging population, promoting maternal employment has become an important issue for Japanese government. Although the maternal employment environment has improved since the 1980s, Japanese firms’ work conditions such as long work hours and job rotation are unfavorable for female regular employees. So there may exist a dilemma in encouraging women’s employment and child health status. This study investigates whether maternal employment negatively affects child health.
Using an “Employment and Lifestyle of Households with Children Survey” data in 2011, this study empirically assesses the effect of maternal employment on the health of children under the age of 18. Two indexes, child’s health status and school refusal behavior, are used as dependent variables. The analysis uses an ordered logistic regression model and a probit regression model. To corresponding to the endogeneity problem, we use two-stage estimation methods.
The main findings are as follows. First, regarding the child health status, the probability of children being in good health is higher in case of working mothers than nonworking mothers. For both single and married mothers, compared with temporary workers’ children, regular workers’ children have a higher probability of good health. Second, regarding children’s school refusal behavior, children of working mothers have a lower probability of refusal than those of nonworking mothers. In addition, in case of single mothers, compared with nonworking mothers, the probability of children’s school refusal behavior is lower for temporary working mothers. In case of married mothers, compared with mothers continuing to work in the same firm, the probability of children’s school refusal behavior is lower for the employment interruption mothers.
These results reveal there isn’t a dilemma in encouraging women’s employment and child health, and promoting maternal employment policy should improve child health. It shows that in order to improve the welfare of the next generation, some policies to encourage the continued employment of women, such as woke-life balance and enforcement of public child care service policies are needed.