Maternal Employment and Adolescent Risky Behavior

Alison Aughinbaugh and Maury Gittleman


This paper examines the impact of maternal employment during a child's first three years and during adolescence on his or her decisions to engage in a range of risky behaviors: smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, using marijuana and other drugs, engaging in sex and committing crimes. Using data from the NLSY79 and its young adult supplement, we find little evidence that mother's employment early in the child's life has lasting consequences on participation in risky behaviors. Similarly, with the possible exception of drinking alcohol-our results do not indicate that maternal employment during adolescence is correlated with increased involvement in risky activities.