Fewer and fewer first-time mothers cut back working hours

01/09/2009 15:00

A smaller number of women than a few years ago work shorter hours after having their first baby. Only women who worked full-time before the birth of their first child still mostly cut back their working hours.

Forty percent of young mothers work the same hours

Fewer women see the birth of their first child as a reason to cut back working hours. In the period 2006-2008, 40 percent of young mothers worked the same number of hours as before their baby was born. A few years ago this was only 34 percent.

The percentage of mothers who worked less fell from 36 to 31 percent. Only a very small percentage of mothers stopped work completely. This fell from 13 to 10 percent. The percentage who did not work either before or after the birth remained constant, at 15 percent.

Change in working hours after birth of first child

Change in working hours after birth of first child

Full-time workers in particular reduce hours

It is mostly women who work full-time before they have their first baby who cut back their working hours once the baby has arrived. While 43 percent of women who had their first baby in the period 2006-2008 had a full-time job before the birth, shortly after the birth this was only 18 percent.

Surprisingly this percentage is much lower among mothers with a child aged around two years. Only 10 percent of them worked full-time. A possible reason for this further reduction is that they reduce their contractual working hours only after they have used up their parental leave.
A working week of between 20 and 27 hours is most popular among mothers.

Working hours of mothers with one child, 2006-2008

Working hours of mothers with one child, 2006-2008

Young fathers hardly change working hours

For fathers the birth of their first child is hardly ever a reason to work shorter hours. In the period 2006-2008 just over 87 percent of first-time fathers worked the same number of hours before and after the birth. Only 5 percent reduced their working hours. This pattern has hardly changed in recent years. Among all young fathers, 85 percent have a full-time job, and 8 percent a part-time job of 28-34 hours.

Kasper Leufkens

Visualisation  Working mothers (interactive)