Maternal Employment, Child Care Choices and Depression

Margaret L. Usdansky, Syracuse University
Rachel Gordon, University of Illinois at Chicago
Anna Gluzman, University of Illinois at Chicago
Xue Wang, University of Illinois at Chicago

Mothers of young children experience high rates of depression, and some research suggests that “stay-at-home” mothers are especially at risk. This paper explores the connections between employed and nonemployed mothers’ reasons for choosing child care and their risk of depression, a topic that has received little previous attention. Using the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, we find that nonemployed mothers are no more likely than employed mothers to experience depression symptoms once we adjust for a rich set of measured controls and fixed effects. But, among both employed and nonemployed mothers, those who chose a child care arrangement because they believed it to be of high quality were least depressed. These findings suggest that when mothers can secure care that they select because of its quality they may be better able to benefit from the advantages of the employment role and avoid the disadvantages of a full-time caregiving role.

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Presented in Poster Session 6