2001 volume 33(3) pages 419 – 430
doi:10.1068/a33140

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Cooke T J, 2001, "'Trailing wife' or 'trailing mother'? The effect of parental status on the relationship between family migration and the labor-market participation of married women" Environment and Planning A 33(3) 419 – 430

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'Trailing wife' or 'trailing mother'? The effect of parental status on the relationship between family migration and the labor-market participation of married women

Thomas J Cooke

Received 8 August 2000; in revised form 28 November 2000

Abstract. Numerous studies demonstrate that married women sacrifice their own careers in order to support their husbands' careers by following them as tied migrants, largely independent of their own occupational status. Thus, it appears as if family migration is shaped by the dominant gender roles and gender identities which configure the lives of women and men in married couple families. The motivation for this paper stems from a concern that family migration research has failed to consider that the effects of family migration on the labor-market participation of married women may be contingent on parental status. This research is designed to uncover the individual and joint effects of migration and parental status on married women's labor-market participation. The approach taken in this research is to begin with a very specific type of married couple family -- married couple families without children -- and to trace how the birth of the first child and migration events independently and jointly determine women's labor-market participation over a 5-year time span. The data for the analysis are drawn from the 1987 through 1992 Family File of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. Random effects probit models of labor-force participation and employment indicate a small, short-lived, impact of migration on the employment of married women without children -- but for married women with children the negative effects of family migration on both labor force participation and employment are large and endure for many years.

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