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Increased Duration of Paid Maternity Leave Lowers Infant Mortality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Quasi-Experimental Study


  • Arijit Nandi
  • Mohammad Hajizadeh
  • Sam Harper
  • Alissa Koski
  • Erin C Strumpf
  • Jody Heymann


Background: Maternity leave reduces neonatal and infant mortality rates in high-income countries. However, the impact of maternity leave on infant health has not been rigorously evaluated in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study, we utilized a difference-in-differences approach to evaluate whether paid maternity leave policies affect infant mortality in LMICs. Methods and Findings: We used birth history data collected via the Demographic and Health Surveys to assemble a panel of approximately 300,000 live births in 20 countries from 2000 to 2008; these observational data were merged with longitudinal information on the duration of paid maternity leave provided by each country. We estimated the effect of an increase in maternity leave in the prior year on the probability of infant (

Suggested Citation

  • Arijit Nandi & Mohammad Hajizadeh & Sam Harper & Alissa Koski & Erin C Strumpf & Jody Heymann, 2016. "Increased Duration of Paid Maternity Leave Lowers Infant Mortality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Quasi-Experimental Study," PLOS Medicine, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(3), pages 1-18, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pmed00:1001985
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001985

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    Cited by:

    1. Claire Samtleben & Julia Bringmann & Mareike Bünning & Lena Hipp, 2019. "What Helps and What Hinders? Exploring the Role of Workplace Characteristics for Parental Leave Use and Its Career Consequences," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-30, September.
    2. 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.
    3. Malat, Jennifer & Mayorga-Gallo, Sarah & Williams, David R., 2018. "The effects of whiteness on the health of whites in the USA," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 199(C), pages 148-156.
    4. Fallon, Kathleen M. & Mazar, Alissa & Swiss, Liam, 2017. "The Development Benefits of Maternity Leave," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 102-118.
    5. Deidda, Manuela & Geue, Claudia & Kreif, Noemi & Dundas, Ruth & McIntosh, Emma, 2019. "A framework for conducting economic evaluations alongside natural experiments," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 220(C), pages 353-361.
    6. 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).
    7. 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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