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Perspectives on Labour and Income - December 2007

Returning to the job after childbirth

Xuelin Zhang

  • Employment rates of mothers were consistently lower than those of other women, in both the short- and long-term. For example, the 84% short-term employment rate of the 1984 cohort of mothers was 13 percentage points below that of other women.
  • About 8% of mothers who gave birth in the mid- to late-1980s withdrew from the labour market in the first three years after childbirth, but by the late 1990s and early 2000s the figure was less than 6%.
  • During the 1980s, the birth of a child lowered earnings by about 28% in the year of childbirth. This increased to 30% in the 1990s, and to about 33% after 2000.
  • Although earnings drops were greater for the early 2000s cohorts of mothers than for the mid-1980s cohorts, the earnings recovery process was shorter.

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Xuelin Zhang is with the Business and Labour Market Analysis Division. He can be reached at 613-951-4295 or