June 2007

IZA DP No. 2853: First Time Parents’ Paid Work Patterns in Amsterdam: Father’s Part-Time Work, Family’s Immigrant Background and Mother’s Work for Pay When the Infant Is Very Young

We analyze first time parents’ work patterns. Little empirical work exists on the influence of the partner’s (change of) employment status. There is no study known to us that investigates the effects of the family’s immigrant background. This study explores both issues in addition to the effects of human capital, the mother’s partner not sharing the household, the women’s breastfeeding intentions and practices. We use panel data of 2003-2004 on families in Amsterdam at early pregnancy and at the time the infant is 3-5 months (when the Dutch family has to “choose” its paid parental work arrangement). Fathers do change their working hours after the birth of the first child. Only the father’s reduction of working for pay, to 25-32 hours per week after the birth of the first child, makes it more likely that the mother starts work when the infant is 3-5 months old. Furthermore, being a female, first generation immigrant has an independent – negative – effect, beyond human capital and other family characteristics, on the decision to work when pregnant and when the infant is 3-5 months old. Similarly, a partner born abroad has an independent, negative effect on the Dutch born – with Dutch born parents – mother’s timing of her return to work. Dutch social policies seem to some extent successful in obtaining the sharing of parental unpaid infant care. Yet, they created by stressing own responsibility only an opportunity and potential benefits for children and parents for those families who can (and dare to) afford.