Influences on employment transitions around the birth of the first child: the experience of Italian mothers

Francesca Fiori*, Giorgio Di Gessa

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article studies mothers’ employment transitions around childbirth. It argues that leaving employment around childbirth and returning after an interruption might depend on multiple influences: the micro-context of individual and household characteristics, the meso-context of women’s jobs and the macro-context of broader cultural and institutional factors. This conceptual model is tested using data from the Italian Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) ‘Family and Social Subjects (2009)’ survey. The findings confirm that mothers’ transitions out of employment are shaped by micro-characteristics such as education, meso-characteristics such as status and security of prior jobs, and macro geographical and temporal factors. Subsequent returns to employment also reflect micro and macro influences, as mothers born before 1950, with low education, and large families are less likely to return; but they seem less dependent upon prior job characteristics. The research highlights the importance of considering multiple levels of influence to understand the enabling factors of maternal employment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Early online date27 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 May 2022


  • Childbirth
  • Contextual factors
  • Italy
  • Job characteristics
  • Maternal employment
  • Work-life balance


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