The goal of this study is to investigate whether and how fast Swedish women returned to work after their first birth and what were the incentives and constraints for their decisions during the latest decades when Sweden was experiencing significant fluctuations both in its economy and in its level of fertility. The analysis is conducted at individual level based on a longitudinal data set from the latest two waves (1991 and 2000) of a long-time running panel survey of &quot;The Swedish Level-of-Living survey &quot; (LNU). We employ the methods of event-history analysis. The findings suggest Swedish women delayed their return to paid work after the first birth in the 1990s due mainly to the gradual extensions in the parental leave benefits in the 1990s, although the economic crisis in the 1990s might result in a faster return for young mothers. In addition to the strong influences of personal and family characteristics such as age at first birth, eligibility for parental leave and father's share of parental leave, whether a woman worked or not prior to the first birth strongly influences the outcomes of her after-birth labour force participation. The study seems to suggest convergences in the timing of return to work in terms of women’s education, the sector (public or private) of employment and the size of the company, but an enlarged gap between women with high job positions and the others.
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