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Growing Up in Ireland : National Longitudinal Study of Children : Mothers' return to work and childcare choices for infants in Ireland

McGinnity, Frances, Murray, Aisling and McNally, Sinéad (2013) Growing Up in Ireland : National Longitudinal Study of Children : Mothers' return to work and childcare choices for infants in Ireland. Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Dublin. ISBN 9781406427752

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This report investigates three key research questions relatingto the care of infants in Ireland: the characteristics of those mothers who take up paid employment before their infant is nine months old, and when exactly they do so; the extent and nature of non-parental childcare for infants; and the association between childcare and infant health. The report uses a large sample of mothers and infants from the nine-month Infant Cohort of the national longitudinal study of children: Growing Up in Ireland.

To set the context, the report considers key features of the labour market and maternity leave and childcare policy in Ireland. The period preceding the fieldwork saw an
economic boom in Ireland accompanied by a rapid rise in employment opportunities for women. Following a number of extensions to maternity leave, by 2008-2009, most mothers were entitled to six months’ paid leave, and up to sixteen weeks’ unpaid maternity leave. Childcare is and has been a major issue for parents and policymakers for many years now. In 2008-2009 state funding for early care and education services for pre-school children was limited, and costs were some of the highest in the OECD. There have been some policy developments since the survey, such as the Free Pre-School year, but not for the 0-2 age group.

This research found that relatively few mothers in Ireland
returned to work before the infant was six months old. More specifically:
- Early returns (before 6 months) were more likely to be by self-employed mothers, young mothers or lone mothers.
- Those who returned in the 8-9 month period were more likely to be highly educated, older, Irish and mothers living in a couple.
- Those who had not yet returned at nine months tended to be low-educated mothers, and either very young or older mothers, and lone mothers.
- Highly educated mothers were more likely to return to work than low-educated mothers, but only when paid leave had ended.
- Mothers of three or more children were much more likely to have been out of the labour market prior to childbirth, and their employment rates at nine months were lower than those with one or two children.

Mothers most often cited financial reasons as the main reason for returning to work, though other reasons, such as getting out of the house and career reasons, also played a role, the latter particularly for highly educated mothers.

Almost all mothers working before childbirth took paid
maternity leave; a smaller proportion also took unpaid leave, and these tended to be more privileged in terms of income and education. Relatively few mothers returned before 6 months, and a significant proportion returned to work at 6 - 7 months. This suggests that in Ireland, as in other countries, the duration of paid maternity leave plays a strong role in mothers’ employment patterns after childbirth.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > Children > Child Development
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 29 Aug 2014 08:38
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2015 15:40

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