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  • Thumbnail for Why are working women opting out? : Are they happy?
    Why are working women opting out? : Are they happy? by Chavez, Alejandra

    This paper identifies factors that contribute to the decision by some married American women to “opt-out” of the labor market. Interestingly, many of these women have invested heavily in their education and have opportunities for career advancement. The “opting-out” phenomenon illustrates women who leave high-profile jobs to seek flexible work arrangements (e.g., part-time jobs) or to be stay-at-home mothers to balance work and family. Opting out is embedded in debates about traditional gender roles, wage penalty, and the loss of valuable human capital for the economy—highly educated mothers. Data for this study come from the 2012 American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This study uses Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) to evaluate the factors that influence the number of hours women work a week. It also uses logistic regression to assess if the effect of spouses’ work status holds after controlling for age, race, region, women’s education, work sector, occupation, household income, number of children, children under five, and time spent on childcare. Furthermore, this study evaluates the different time usage of parents and applies existent household utility maximization models to show the effect of women’s decision to opt out. This study found that while spouses’ works status is a significant contributor to women’s decision to opt out, there are other factors that are stronger predictors. This study also found that married mothers have a strong preference for housework and childcare, which leaves them with less leisure time compared to fathers. Ultimately, this study sheds light on the way a household maximizes its utility based on the division of labor agreed by the couple, which in turn influences labor supply.