Study Finds Advantages for Kids of Working Moms

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated January 30, 2017
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Say goodbye to working mom guilt — a new study demonstrates that being a working parent could have big payoffs for your kids down the road.

The Harvard Business School study looked at 50,000 adults in 25 countries, and found the biggest positive impact on daughters of working moms. In addition to having higher employment rates overall, these daughters have higher incomes and more supervisory roles as adults.

“Part of this working mothers’ guilt has been, ‘Oh, my kids are going to be so much better off if I stay home,’ but what we’re finding in adult outcomes is kids will be so much better off if women spend some time at work,” study author Kathleen McGinn tells The New York Times.

The correlation is especially strong in the US: Daughters of working moms earn 23 percent more than those of stay-at-home moms. And while a son’s career doesn’t seem to be impacted, sons of working moms log seven and a half more hours with their kids each week.

“This is our best clue that what’s happening is a real role modeling of skills that somehow conveys to you, ‘Here’s a way to behave, here’s a way you can cope with the various demands of work and home,’” McGinn says.

Still, there are skeptics. Wouldn’t children do better because of the benefits of a working mother’s presumed higher education? Or wouldn’t higher household incomes give them a leg up? McGinn says factors like income and education were controlled for.

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