Parental Leave and Mothers' Careers: The Relative Importance of Job Protection and Cash Benefits
Job protection and cash benefits are key elements of parental leave (PL) systems. We study how these two policy instruments affect return-to-work and medium-run labour market outcomes of mothers of newborn children. Analysing a series of major PL policy changes in Austria, we find that longer cash benefits lead to a significant delay in return-to-work, particularly so in the period that is job-protected. Prolonged parental leave absence induced by these policy changes does not appear to hurt mothers' labour market outcomes in the medium run. We build a non-stationary model of job search after childbirth to isolate the role of the two policy instruments. The model matches return-to-work and return to same employer profiles under the various factual policy configurations. Counterfactual policy simulations indicate that a system that combines cash with protection dominates other systems in generating time for care immediately after birth while maintaining mothers' medium-run labour market attachment. Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.
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Volume (Year): 81 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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