Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 729–746 | Cite as

Labor Force Attachment and Maternity Leave Usage of Cohabiting Mothers in the United States

  • Samantha Marie SchenckEmail author
Original Paper


This paper studies the labor supply decisions of new mothers in cohabiting relationships in the United States. Using cross-sectional data from the 1997 Cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth as well as from the March Current Population Survey Annual Demographic Supplement, this paper analyzes how the birth of a child impacts a mother’s labor supply. Different subgroups of women based on relationship status are analyzed and compared. Both cross-sectional analyses show that new mothers in cohabiting households behave differently than their married counterparts when it comes to their labor supply after the birth of a child, taking significantly shorter leaves and working more hours in the year of birth. The results also suggest that their partner’s income is not a significant factor in determining their labor supply, which differs from married mothers. This research gives us important insights into the economic decision-making behavior of these nontraditional households.


Labor supply Economics of the family Marriage Motherhood Maternity leave Cohabitation 



I would like to thank Carlos Liard-Muriente, M.V. Lee Badgett, Marta Murray-Close, and Joya Misra for helpful comments and encouragement. I would also like to thank the participants of the panels at the 2017 IAES and 2018 EEA conferences for their constructive input and suggestions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Samantha Marie Schenck declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economic DepartmentCentral Connecticut State UniversityNew BritainUSA

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