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A matter of culture and cost? A comparison of the employment decisions made by mothers with a lower, intermediate and higher level of education in the Netherlands

By Mariëlle Cloïn, Saskia Keuzenkamp and Janneke Plantenga


This article is focused on financial-economic and socio-cultural factors in explaining differences in labour participation and working hours of Dutch mothers with diverging educational levels. The data used are taken from a survey held among approximately 1700 women in the Netherlands from two-parent households with children up to 12 years old. The models for participation and working hours are simultaneously estimated for different levels of education. It is found that socio-cultural factors have slightly more impact on the employment decisions of lower educated mothers compared to their higher educated counterparts, although the differences are only minor. Despite the level of education, socio-cultural factors appear to be more important in mothers’ employment decisions than financial-economic factors. In addition, both factors are better predictors for mothers’ decisions to participate than for their number of working hours; demographic variables are found to be the most important predictor for mothers’ working hours.attitudes; employment; financial incentives; low educated mothers; preferences; social norms

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