Returning to Work after Childbirth: Changes in the Job Satisfaction of New Mothers

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Anke Plagnol, City University London, London, United Kingdom
Julia Gumy, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
The study explores women’s job satisfaction around the time they first become mothers. Childbirth is a crucial transition in a woman’s life at which many women decide to permanently or temporarily withdraw from the labour market depending on individual preferences and constraints. However, the impact of job satisfaction on women’s employment decisions has been under-researched. We found in a previous analysis that job satisfaction prior to childbirth impacts women’s labour market attachment. In this study, we examine how job satisfaction changes for those women who return to paid work after childbirth. While women with prior high job satisfaction may be more likely to return to the labour market after childbirth, they may not anticipate how job satisfaction changes after their return to work due to increased work-family conflict and changes in career prospects. Using two longitudinal European datasets – the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socio Economic Panel – the study considers changes in job satisfaction of those women who return to work after the birth of a first child and also examines the role of their partners’ job characteristics and contributions to unpaid work. Our results indicate that job satisfaction prior to childbirth is higher than after a woman’s return to work. Women who return to work within two years of childbirth report higher job satisfaction than those who return later, but some of these differences disappear with the inclusion of additional control variables.