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The Development Benefits of Maternity Leave

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  • Fallon, Kathleen M.
  • Mazar, Alissa
  • Swiss, Liam

Abstract

Within developing countries, studies addressing the effects of maternity benefits on fertility, infant/child health, and women’s labor force participation are limited and provide contradictory findings. Yet, knowledge regarding the implementation of maternity provisions is essential, as such policies could significantly improve women and children’s well-being. We add to this literature using fixed effects panel regression from 1999 to 2012 across 121 developing countries to explore whether different types of maternity leave policies affect infant/child mortality rates, fertility, and women’s labor force participation, and whether those effects are shaped by disparities in GDP per Capita and Secondary School Enrollment. Our findings demonstrate: (1) both infant and child mortality rates are expected to decline in countries that institute any leave policy, policies that last 12weeks or longer, and policies that increase in duration and payment (as a percentage of total annual salary), (2) fertility is expected to decline in countries that have higher weekly paid compensation, (3) maternity leave provisions decrease fertility and infant/child mortality rates most in countries with lower GDP per capita and countries with middle-range secondary enrollment rates, and (4) labor force participation does not increase. Our results suggest that policy makers must consider the duration, compensation, and goals (addressing fertility versus mortality rates) of a policy alongside a country’s economic development and secondary school enrollment when determining which maternity leave provisions to apply within developing-country contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Fallon, Kathleen M. & Mazar, Alissa & Swiss, Liam, 2017. "The Development Benefits of Maternity Leave," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 102-118.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:102-118
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2017.03.001
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    3. Grace Puliyel & Hoolda Kim & Sophie Mitra, 2020. "Paid maternity leave and child mortality in Asia and the Pacific," Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 27(1), pages 95-120, June.
    4. Keonhi Son & Tobias Böger, 2021. "The Inclusiveness of Maternity Leave Rights over 120 Years and across Five Continents," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 9(2), pages 275-287.
    5. Rafi Amir-ud-Din & Sameen Zafar & Muhammad Muzammil & Rabia Shabbir & Summaira Malik & Muhammad Usman, 2022. "Exploring the Relationship Between Maternal Occupation and Under-Five Mortality: Empirical Evidence from 26 Developing Countries," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 34(5), pages 2373-2399, October.
    6. Jing Zhang & Simon Appleton & Lina Song & Bing Liu, 2021. "Who Looks after the Kids? The Effects of Childcare Choice on Early Childhood Development in China," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(3), pages 619-640, June.
    7. Ahmed, Salma & Fielding, David, 2019. "Changes in maternity leave coverage: Implications for fertility, labour force participation and child mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 241(C).
    8. Stumbitz, Bianca & Lewis, Suzan & Kyei, Abigail A. & Lyon, Fergus, 2018. "Maternity protection in formal and informal economy workplaces: The case of Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 373-384.
    9. Amin,Mohammad & Islam,Asif Mohammed, 2022. "The Impact of Paid Maternity Leave on Women’s Employment : Evidence Using Firm-LevelSurvey Data from Developing Countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10188, The World Bank.
    10. Morton, Gregory Duff, 2019. "The power of lump sums: Using maternity payment schedules to reduce the gender asset gap in households reached by Brazil’s Bolsa Família conditional cash transfer," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 352-367.

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