Does Women’s Work Commitment Change After Marriage and Motherhood?1 May 2007



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WORK COMMITMENT, MARRIAGE, and MOTHERHOOD

Does Women’s Work Commitment Change After Marriage and Motherhood?1

May 2007

Mary C. Noonan

Phyllis L. F. Rippeyoung

Jennifer L. Glass



ABSTRACT

In this paper, we assess two competing perspectives of how marriage and childbirth should impact women’s work commitment. The contextual perspective presumes that work commitment will decrease in response to increases in family care responsibilities, whereas the stability perspective suggests that work commitment becomes a fixed personal trait once past adolescence, and, in turn, it determines the level of family care responsibility undertaken. We test these two perspectives using a sample of young women from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (1979-1984). Results show mixed support for both perspectives. Women who are initially work-committed are less likely to marry, and upon marriage, their work commitment decreases even further. Conversely, work-committed women are more likely to become mothers over the observation period, and having a child increases work commitment, meaning that mothers are more likely to be committed to work than childless women. Overall, one’s baseline/previous work commitment has a much larger impact on future work commitment than changes in family status.

KEYWORRDS: WORK COMMITMENT, MARRIAGE, MOTHERHOOD, GENDER



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