Escaping the motherhood trap: Parental leave and childcare help young mothers to avoid NEET risks

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New Research Memorandum by Lynn van Vugt (ROA), Rense Nieuwenhuis (SOFI), Mark Levels (ROA)

This paper explores to what extent and how the risk that young mothers become NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) later in life is related to family policy provisions (i.e. parental leave and Early Childhood Education and Care). We examine a three-staged process: the relation between (a) characteristics of family policies and the use of it, (b) the use of family policy provisions and NEET risks, and (c) the effectiveness of family policy provisions on the characteristics of these family policies. Combining data from the EU-LFS with macro-level indicators of family policies, we analyse NEET risks of 13,613 young mothers (20-29) in 27 EU-countries. We find that young mothers are more likely to take parental leave if it is paid for a longer period of time, and are more likely to use ECEC when childcare placement is guaranteed. Both parental leave and ECEC services are associated with lower NEET risks, as long as they are not used for overly short or long periods. However, this depends largely on the way parental leave is organised. In addition, in countries where ECEC is more affordable, young mothers who use ECEC are better protected against NEET risks later in life.

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