Richard Blundell, Luigi Pistaferri, Itay Saporta Eksten, 18 December 2017

Households can insure their living standards against shocks to wages or employment through the allocation of goods and time. This column presents a model for couples’ decisions on how much to consume or save and how to allocate their available time to three activities – work, leisure, and the care of children – and uses the model to simulate behaviour in response to new policies. The results suggest that the reduction of the mother's childcare time should be an important part of any analysis of the consequences of policies or external shocks that incentivise mothers with young children into work.

Cheti Nicoletti, Kjell G. Salvanes, Emma Tominey, 10 December 2017

Developed countries have seen substantial increases in the number of women who return to work after having a child. This is due to a host of well-researched factors, including tax credit incentives and increased availability of child care. This column analyses another factor determining mothers’ labour supply – the peer effects of women in their family. It finds that for each hour worked by a family member, women work up 30 minutes a week purely due to the peer effect. This finding is important for determining the direct and indirect effectiveness of policies encouraging women to work after having children.

Janet Currie, 15 January 2016

Studies of the effects of economic fluctuations on health have come to wildly different conclusions. This may be because the effects are different for different groups. Using US data, this column looks at the health consequences of the Great Recession on mothers, a sub-population that has thus far been largely neglected in the literature. Increases in unemployment are found to have large negative health effects and to increase incidences of smoking and substance abuse among mothers. These effects appear to be concentrated on disadvantaged groups such as minorities, and point to short- and long-term consequences for their children.

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