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Does Maternity Leave Induce Births?

  • Susan L. Averett

    ()

    (Lafayette College)

  • Leslie A. Whittington

    ()

    (Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University)

Alleviating the tension between the conflicting responsibilities women may face as mothers and as workers is a topic of current policy interest. Expansion of guaranteed maternity leave to all employed women in the United States is suggested as one possible “family-friendly” solution. Controversy surrounding the issue of increased maternity leave centers around the potential cost to firms of widespread access to leave. One specific concern is that the availability of maternity leave will actually increase births among eligible working women. In this paper we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine the impact of maternity leave on fertility. We explore two possible routes through which maternity leave may influence fertility. We first estimate the impact of desired fertility on the probability of being in a job offering maternity leave. We then estimate the impact of maternity leave and desired fertility on the probability of a birth. We find no evidence that women sort by fertility desires into firms on the basis of their maternity leave policy. We do find that the probability of a birth increases as a result of maternity leave, and that the fertility effect of maternity leave increases with birth parity.

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Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 68 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 403-417

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:68:2:y:2001:p:403-417
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/

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