Is there competition between breast-feeding and maternal employment?

Demography. 1999 May;36(2):157-71.


Theory suggests that the decision to return to employment after childbirth and the decision to breast-feed may be jointly determined. We estimate models of simultaneous equations for two different aspects of the relationship between maternal employment and breast-feeding using 1993-1994 data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Infant Feeding Practices Study. We first explore the simultaneous duration of breast-feeding and work leave following childbirth. We find that the duration of leave from work significantly affects the duration of breast-feeding, but the effect of breast-feeding on work leave is insignificant. We also estimate models of the daily hours of work and breast-feedings at infant ages 3 months and 6 months postpartum. At both times, the intensity of work effort significantly affects the intensity of breast-feeding, but the reverse is generally not found. Competition clearly exists between work and breast-feeding for many women in our sample.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mothers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Parental Leave / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Regression Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Women, Working / statistics & numerical data*