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Maternal leave policies and vaccination coverage: A global analysis


  • Daku, Mark
  • Raub, Amy
  • Heymann, Jody


Childhood vaccination is a proven and cost-effective way to reduce childhood mortality; however, participation in vaccination programs is not universal even where programs are free or low cost. Studies in diverse countries have reported work conflicts as limiting parents’ ability to vaccinate their children. Using policy data for 185 UN member countries, we explore the hypothesis that an increased opportunity for parents to bring children to vaccination sites will translate into higher childhood vaccination rates. To do so, we use OLS regression to examine the relationship between the duration of adequately paid maternal leave and the uptake of vaccines. We find that a higher number of full-time equivalent weeks of paid maternal leave is associated with higher childhood vaccination rates, even after controlling for GDP per capita, health care expenditures, and social factors. Further research is needed to assess whether this association is upheld in longitudinal and intervention studies, as well as whether other forms of leave such as paid leave to care for the health of family members is effective at increasing the ability of parents to bring children for needed preventive care.

Suggested Citation

  • Daku, Mark & Raub, Amy & Heymann, Jody, 2012. "Maternal leave policies and vaccination coverage: A global analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 120-124.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:120-124
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.10.013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rodrigo R. Soares, 2007. "On the Determinants of Mortality Reductions in the Developing World," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(2), pages 247-287.
    2. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
    3. Coreil, Jeannine & Augustin, Antoine & Halsey, Neal A. & Holt, Elizabeth, 1994. "Social and psychological costs of preventive child health services in Haiti," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 231-238, January.
    4. Lawrence M. Berger & Jennifer Hill & Jane Waldfogel, 2005. "Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages 29-47, February.
    5. Pérez-Cuevas, Ricardo & Reyes, Hortensia & Pego, Ulises & Tomé, Patricia & Ceja, Karla & Flores, Sergio & Gutiérrez, Gonzalo, 1999. "Immunization promotion activities: are they effective in encouraging mothers to immunize their children?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(7), pages 921-932, October.
    6. 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.
    7. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages 7-28, February.
    8. World Bank, 2010. "World Development Indicators 2010," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4373.
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    Cited by:

    1. Khanam, Rasheda & Nghiem, Son & Connelly, Luke, 2016. "The effects of parental leave on child health and postnatal care: Evidence from Australia," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 17-29.
    2. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:102-118 is not listed on IDEAS


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