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Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?

  • Pinka Chatterji

    ()

    (Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research at Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School)

  • Sara Markowitz

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Rutgers University)

The objective of this paper is to investigate the impact of the length of maternity leave on maternal health in a sample of working mothers. Two measures of depression and a measure of outpatient health visits are used to represent maternal health. Ordinary least squares models provide baseline estimates, and instrumental variables models account for the potential endogeneity of the return-to-work decision. The findings suggest that returning to work later is associated with a reduction in the number or frequency of depressive symptoms. There is suggestive but inconclusive evidence that longer maternity leave is associated with a lower probability of being a likely case of clinical depression and a lower likelihood of having frequent outpatient visits during the first six months after childbirth. These findings contribute to the literature on maternal leave policy, which focuses primarily on the benefits of leave for child health and development, by evaluating the influence of longer maternal leave on the health of mothers.

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

Volume (Year): 72 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 16–41

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:1:y:2005:p:16-41
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.southerneconomic.org/
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  1. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, October.
  2. Blau, Francine D & Grossberg, Adam J, 1992. "Maternal Labor Supply and Children's Cognitive Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 474-81, August.
  3. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "Parental Leave and Child Health," NBER Working Papers 6554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gjerdingen, Dwenda K. & Debra, Froberg, 1991. "Predictors of health in new mothers," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1399-1407, January.
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