Is Maternal Income in Childhood Associated With Adolescent Health and Behavioral Outcomes?

Megan Shepherd-Banigan, Anirban Basu, Janice F Bell, Cathryn Booth-LaForce, Jeffrey R. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Maternal income increases immediate investment in children for food, child care, and health care, but whether maternal income influences longer term health and behavioral outcomes is unknown. Using data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, we examine the association between maternal income in early and later childhood on body mass index percentile, problem behaviors, and self-reported health status at age 15 among a sample of children (N = 1,283) whose mothers were employed at at least one observation time point between birth and age 15 (1991-2005). When controlling for family income (minus maternal income) and maternal employment characteristics, higher maternal income during early childhood was significantly associated with fewer adolescent problem behaviors. Maternal income during early childhood may influence adolescent behavioral outcomes. These findings suggest that increased maternal income, a positive externality of maternal employment, may increase the net benefit of maternal employment for child behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Family Issues
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • adolescents
  • economic issues
  • family health
  • family policy
  • household labor
  • work and family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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