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December 12, 2001
Women Making Stronger Commitment to Workplace
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sus data collected between 1960 to 1995 shows major changes in maternity leave and employment patterns, indicating longer-term commitments by women to the workplace, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.

"The cumulative effect is that women's work schedules are less likely to be interrupted by the birth of their first child, and women today are making longer-term commitments to the labor force than women in the 1960s," said Kristin Smith, lead author of the bureau report, "Maternity Leave and Employment Patterns, 1961-1995."

The report discusses changes in the characteristics of first-time mothers, how rapidly mothers with newborns return to work, trends in women's work experience before their first birth, and changes in U.S. society, including enactment of family-related legislation such as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.

Some highlights from the report:

- The proportion of women working during pregnancy before their first birth increased by 23 percentage points between the periods 1961-65 and 1991-95 from 44 percent to 67 percent.

- Mothers were much more likely to return to work by the sixth month after their first child's birth in 1991-94 (52 percent) than in 1961-65 (14 percent).

- In the period 1991-94, 78 percent of mothers who returned to work within 12 months of their first birth were employed by their pre-birth employer.

- Only 27 percent of women quit their job around the time of their first birth in 1991-95, compared with 63 percent in 1961-65.

- In 1991-95, 43 percent of women received paid leave before or after their first child's birth; only 16 percent did so in 1961-65. The report is based on data from the 1996 panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation.


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