by Jessica Looze
Changing jobs during one’s early career has become increasingly common, and is often a way for young workers to secure higher pay, better benefits, or greater opportunities. For those who are unable to enjoy the benefits of early career job mobility, these missed opportunities may contribute to a lifetime of lower earnings and other disadvantages. An individual’s ability to change jobs is often dependent upon a number of factors, one important one being motherhood – as bearing and raising young children often has important influences on women’s career decisions.
In a recent study published in Social Science Research, I consider how motherhood shapes women’s decisions to either stay with their current employer or pursue another job. I use panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to examine how both pregnancy and young children influence women’s job changes and employment exits. I distinguish among three reasons for leaving a job: family-related reasons, non-family voluntary reasons, and involuntary reasons (such as being laid off or fired). In this post, I highlight findings on the effects of motherhood on non-family voluntary job changes, as these are the types of changes that most often lead to wage growth.