Existing research shows access to suitable, affordable childcare is an important factor in mothers' return to work after having a child. This project will extend this research to investigate whether lack of access to childcare early in the child's life affects the mother's subsequent employment even after appropriate childcare has been secured, as suggested by literature on the long term unemployment trap. The research will leverage the longitudinal nature of the GUiNZ data set and its detailed information on the reasons for mothers' choices.
We will first categorise mothers by their childcare situation at 9 months: child in care for <30 hours each week; child in care for >==30 hours each week; child not in care due to availability/suitability/access reasons; child not in care due to cost; or child not in care due to preferences. We will use multinomial logit regressions to understand how personal characteristics and antenatal situation are related to this childcare situation.
We will then use regression analysis to investigate the persistence of childcare difficulties over time and how the mother's work situation is related to contemporaneous or both contemporaneous and past childcare situations. If childcare issues early on have lasting effects on maternal employment, the cost to the economy of insufficient childcare provision may be greater than believed.