Organizations as Network Equalizers? Employer-Provided Childcare and the Labor Supply of Working Mothers

Organizations as Network Equalizers? Employer-Provided Childcare and the Labor Supply of Working Mothers

By Aruna Ranganathan, David Pedulla
March 28,2018Working Paper No. 3610

Revise-and-Resubmit

Reconciling the competing demands of work and family life remains a persistent challenge for workers around the world. Yet, this burden is not shared equally. Women shoulder disproportionate family responsibilities, including caregiving, which can impact their employment outcomes. In this article, we ask whether workplace policies can improve the labor supply of disadvantaged women. First, we use a quasi-experimental research design to gain causal empirical traction on how an organizational-level work-family policy intervention – employer-sponsored childcare – affects women’s daily attendance in an Indian garment factory. Second, we explore heterogeneity in this effect by women’s family-based network support. Our results indicate a strong, positive effect of employer-provided childcare on women’s daily attendance. Additionally, we find that the positive effects of employer-sponsored childcare are concentrated among women whose family-based networks may be less likely to mobilize to provide informal childcare support, indicating that organizational policies can level the playing field for these women. Together, these findings hold theoretical insights for understanding the role of organizational policies as “network equalizers” that can counteract the challenges that arise when one’s social networks do not mobilize resources, while providing novel evidence about an intervention that can improve women’s employment outcomes in the Global South.