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How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment and Infant Health?

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  • Michael Baker
  • Kevin Milligan

Abstract

Maternity leaves can affect mothers' and infants' welfare if they first affect the amount of time working women stay at home post birth. We provide new evidence of the labor supply effects of these leaves from an analysis of the introduction and expansion of job-protected maternity leave in Canada. The substantial variation in leave entitlements across mothers by time and space is likely exogenous to their unobserved characteristics. This is important because unobserved heterogeneity correlated with leave entitlement potentially biases many previous studies of this topic. We find that modest mandates of 17-18 weeks do not increase the time mothers spend at home. The physical demands of birth and private arrangements appear to render short mandates redundant. These mandates do, however, decrease the proportion of women quitting their jobs, increase leave taking, and increase the proportion returning to their pre-birth employers. In contrast, we find that expansions of job-protected leaves to lengths up to 70 weeks do increase the time spent at home (as well as leave-taking and job continuity). We also examine whether this increase in time at home affects infant health, finding no evidence of an effect on the incidence of low birth weight or infant mortality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11135.

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Date of creation: Feb 2005
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Publication status: published as Baker, Michael and Kevin Milligan. "How does job protected maternity leave affect mothers’ employment?” Journal of Labor Economics 26, 4 (October 2008): 655-692.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11135

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  1. Gary Solon, 1983. "Estimating Autocorrelations in Fixed-Effects Models," Working Papers 540, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Jacob Klerman & Arleen Leibowitz, 1999. "Job continuity among new mothers," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 145-155, May.
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  4. Summers, Lawrence H, 1989. "Some Simple Economics of Mandated Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 177-83, May.
  5. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2004. "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?," NBER Working Papers 10206, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Charles L. Baum II, 2003. "The Effects of Maternity Leave Legislation on Mothers' Labor Supply after Childbirth," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 69(4), pages 772-799, April.
  7. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "The Economic Consequences Of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons From Europe," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 285-317, February.
  8. Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "The impact of the family and medical leave act," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 281-302.
  9. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  10. Jacob Alex Klerman & Arleen Leibowitz, 1994. "The Work-Employment Distinction among New Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 277-303.
  11. Shelley Phipps & Peter Burton & Lynn Lethbridge, 2001. "In and out of the labour market: long-term income consequences of child-related interruptions to women's paid work," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 411-429, May.
  12. Shelley A. Phipps, 2000. "Maternity and Parental Benefits in Canada: Are there Behavioural Implications?," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(4), pages 415-436, December.
  13. Waldfogel, Jane, 1998. "The Family Gap for Young Women in the United States and Britain: Can Maternity Leave Make a Difference?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 505-45, July.
  14. David Shapiro & Frank L. Mott, 1994. "Long-Term Employment and Earnings of Women in Relation to Employment Behavior Surrounding the First Birth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 248-275.
  15. Yoshio Higuchi & Jane Waldfogel & Masahiro Abe, 1999. "Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: Evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 523-545.
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Cited by:
  1. Chiara Pronzato, 2008. "Return to work after childbirth: Does parental leave matter in Europe?," Working Papers 014, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
  2. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2008. "Family Leave after Childbirth and the Health of New Mothers," NBER Working Papers 14156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Würtz, Astrid, 2007. "The Long-Term Effect on Children of Increasing the Length of Parents' Birth-Related Leave," Working Papers 07-11, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  4. Mikal Skuterud, 2008. "Perinatal Family Labour Supply: Historical Trends and the Modern Experience," Working Papers 08001, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2008.
  5. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2010. "Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
  6. Zhang, Xuelin, 2008. "The Post-childbirth Employment of Canadian Mothers and the Earnings Trajectories of Their Continuously Employed Counterparts, 1983 to 2004," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008314e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  7. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a "True Natural Experiment"," IZA Discussion Papers 1613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Rafael Lalive & Analía Schlosser & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "Parental Leave and Mothers' Careers: The Relative Importance of Job Protection and Cash Benefits," NRN working papers 2011-14, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  9. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
  10. Marcela Perticara & Claudia Sanhueza, 2010. "Women’s Employment after Childbirth," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv258, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
  11. Zhang, Xuelin, 2008. "Emploi des meres canadiennes apres la naissance d'un enfant et trajectoires des gains de leurs homologues occupees de facon continue, 1983 a 2004," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2008314f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
  12. Andrea Bassanini & Danielle Venn, 2008. "The Impact of Labour Market Policies on Productivity in OECD Countries," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 17, pages 3-15, Fall.
  13. Schönberg, Uta & Ludsteck, Johannes, 2007. "Maternity Leave Legislation, Female Labor Supply, and the Family Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 2699, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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