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Parental leave benefits and breastfeeding in Germany: effects of the 2007 reform

Author

Listed:
  • Anita Kottwitz

    (DIW Berlin)

  • Anja Oppermann

    (iFQ)

  • C. Katharina Spiess

    (DIW Berlin
    Freie Universität Berlin)

Abstract

While breastfeeding is associated with health benefits for both mothers and children, it may also make it difficult for mothers to return to the labor market early. Maternity and parental leave regulations have been developed to mitigate this conflict. In 2007, Germany passed a reform introducing a new parental leave benefit (Elterngeld). In this paper, we address the question of whether the new parental leave benefit impacts breastfeeding initiation and duration in Germany. We use the reform as an exogenous policy variation to obtain causal evidence on breastfeeding behavior, applying a difference-in-differences approach. Mothers in particular benefit from the reform especially if they were employed prior to childbirth or if they have a household income above the income threshold of the previous parental leave scheme (treatment group). The reform did not bring significant changes within the first year of a child’s life for all other mothers (control group). We draw on representative survey data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study. Three breastfeeding measures are used for the 2004 to 2009 cohorts: (1) breastfeeding at birth; (2) breastfeeding for at least 4 months; and (3) breastfeeding for at least 6 months. We find no effect of the Elterngeld reform on breastfeeding initiation but do observe an effect on breastfeeding duration. Our results are robust over various sensitivity tests, including placebo regressions, the application of matching approaches, and controlling for regional indicators, among others. Thus, our empirical results provide evidence that the reform’s goal of allowing parents to spend more time with their children during the first year of life also impacted breastfeeding behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Anita Kottwitz & Anja Oppermann & C. Katharina Spiess, 2016. "Parental leave benefits and breastfeeding in Germany: effects of the 2007 reform," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 859-890, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:14:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9299-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-015-9299-4
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    Cited by:

    1. Mari, Gabriele & Cutuli, Giorgio, 2018. "Do parental leaves make the motherhood wage penalty worse? Assessing two decades of German reforms," SocArXiv f2nrc, Center for Open Science.
    2. Huebener, Mathias & Kuehnle, Daniel & Spiess, C. Katharina, 2019. "Parental leave policies and socio-economic gaps in child development: Evidence from a substantial benefit reform using administrative data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    3. Katrin Huber, 2019. "Changes in parental leave and young children’s non-cognitive skills," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 89-119, March.
    4. Hendrik Jürges, 2017. "Financial incentives, timing of births, and infant health: a closer look into the delivery room," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 18(2), pages 195-208, March.
    5. Aline Bütikofer & Julie Riise & Meghan M. Skira, 2021. "The Impact of Paid Maternity Leave on Maternal Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 67-105, February.
    6. Schröder Carsten & König Johannes & Fedorets Alexandra & Goebel Jan & Grabka Markus M. & Lüthen Holger & Metzing Maria & Schikora Felicitas & Liebig Stefan, 2020. "The economic research potentials of the German Socio-Economic Panel study," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 21(3), pages 335-371, September.
    7. Tudor, Simona, 2020. "Financial incentives, fertility and early life child outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).
    8. Gabriele Mari & Giorgio Cutuli, 2019. "Do Parental Leaves Make the Motherhood Wage Penalty Worse? Assessing Two Decades of German Reforms," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1025, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    9. Karen Vanderlinden & Veerle Buffel & Bart Van de Putte & Sarah Van de Velde, 2020. "Motherhood in Europe: An Examination of Parental Leave Regulations and Breastfeeding Policy Influences on Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 9(12), pages 1-22, December.
    10. Mathias Huebener & Daniel Kuehnle & C. Katharina Spiess, 2017. "Paid Parental Leave and Child Development: Evidence from the 2007 German Parental Benefit Reform and Administrative Data," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1651, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Breastfeeding; Parental leave; Reform effects; Germany;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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