ETLA Discussion Papers, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA) 1060
This study investigates whether or not time use during a parental leave has an independent explanatory power in the subsequent decision to return to employment. In studies of the exit from maternity leave it has been found that it is the mother’s education, age and type of employment contract that most strongly determines whether she returns to employment or not. However, whether the structure of time use – the amount of leisure activities, the intensity of childcare or the preference for housework – has an independent effect, has not been studied before. This study looks whether this is the case by using information on the work histories of those mothers that participated in the Finnish Time Use Study 1999/2000. Although based on a limited sample, only 148 mothers, our results show that the mother’s time with her children does not and the amount of active leisure and social activities, do postpone the return to employment. However, the effect was modest at the most. Instead this study confirms the results obtained from earlier studies having concentrated on the mothers’ socio-economic background. It seems that these factors (age, education and income level) are the driving force behind the mother’s decision to return or not to return to paid employment.