Abstract / Description of output
Considerable literature from low- and lower-middle-income countries (LLMICs) links maternal employment to child nutritional status. However, less is known about the role of parental employment and occupation type in shaping child development outcomes. Additionally, little empirical work has examined the mechanisms through which parental occupation influences child outcomes. Our objective was to investigate the associations between maternal and paternal employment (comparing agricultural and non-agricultural employment) and child development and to examine childcare practices and women’s empowerment as potential mechanisms. We pooled nine Demographic and Health Surveys (Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Congo, Haiti, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda) with data on 8,516 children aged 36-59 months. We used generalised linear models to estimate associations between parental employment and child development, child stimulation (number of activities provided by the mother, father, and other household members), child supervision (not left alone or with older child for >1 hour), early childhood care and education programme (ECCE) attendance, and women’s empowerment. In our sample, all fathers and 85% of mothers were employed. In 40% of families, both parents were employed in agriculture. After adjusting for child, parental and household confounders, we found that parental agricultural employment, relative to non-agricultural employment, was associated with poorer child development (relative risk (RR) 0.86 (95% CI 0.80, 0.92), more child stimulation provided by other household members (mean difference (MD) 0.26 (95% CI 0.09, 0.42)), less adequate child supervision (RR, 0.83 (95% 0.78, 0.80)), less ECCE attendance (RR 0.46 (95% CI 0.39, 0.54)), and lower women’s empowerment (MD -1.01 (95% CI -1.18, -0.84)). Parental agricultural employment may be an important risk factor for early childhood development. More research using more comprehensive exposure and outcome measures is needed to unpack these complex relationships and to inform interventions and policies to support working parents in the agricultural sector with young children.