Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 323–358 | Cite as

Family proximity and the labor force status of women in Canada

  • Janice Compton


In this paper, I examine the effect of family co-residence and proximity on the labor force participation and working hours of Canadian women. I find lower labor market attachment for married women without young children who co-reside with their mothers (those women most likely to care for their elderly mothers) and for married women with young children who live more than half a day away from their mothers (those women least likely to benefit from the availability of family provided childcare). I find no effect of proximity for single women with children on the extensive margin, but do find that they work fewer hours if they live far from their mothers. The results hold only for proximity to living mothers (as opposed to proximity to widowed fathers), suggesting that it is the mothers themselves, and not merely the home location, that drives the results. I incorporate IV estimation using province of birth and whether one was born in the same province of either parent to estimate proximity, and find consistent results. To the extent that the positive effect of close proximity is related to the availability of grandchild care, policies that impact the labor force behavior of grandmothers may also impact the labor force behavior of their daughters. Regional patterns in proximity suggest that national childcare and labor market policies may yield different results across the country.


Women’s labor supply Childcare Proximity 

JEL Classification

R23 J13 J22 



Thanks to Jie Pan, Robert A. Pollak, Frances Woolley, Carl Shu-Ming Lin, two anonymous referees, participants of the RDC 2010 conference, the CLRSN 2011 conference, and the University of Calgary seminar series for helpful comments, and Ian Clara at RDC Manitoba for assistance with data requests. While the research and analysis are based on data from Statistics Canada, the opinions expressed do not represent the views of Statistics Canada.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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