Maternal employment trends and transitions

Current project

This project explores the trends in mothers' employment participation and the characteristics of mothers' employment.


Many industrialised countries, including Australia, have experienced significant growth in maternal employment over recent decades, even among mothers of very young children. As the population ages more attention has also been focused on mothers as a potential labour supply for the Australian economy. Approximately two-thirds of mothers are employed in Australia, which means that there is potential for more to be engaged in paid work. Another key factor that drives interest in maternal employment is concern about the wellbeing of adults and children living in jobless households, particularly lone-mother households.

About the project 

AIFS has a program of work analysing mothers’ employment, drawing upon various Australian datasets including the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) and the Australian Population Census. This research explores the trends in mothers’ employment participation, the characteristics of mothers’ employment, how mothers’ employment is managed within families, and how fathers and mothers vary in their engagement in paid work.

Some of AIFS research has examined:

  • trends in the rates and hours of maternal employment, with a focus on mothers with very young children
  • factors that explain mothers’ employment patterns
  • mothers’ return to work after child bearing and as their children grow
  • associations between mothers’ employment and child care use and measures of parental time with children.





Funding sources