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Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: Evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan


  • Yoshio Higuchi

    (Keio University, Department of Business and Commerce, Tokyo, Japan)

  • Jane Waldfogel

    () (Columbia University, School of Social Work, 622 West 113th Street, New York, NY 10025, USA)

  • Masahiro Abe

    (Hitotsubashi University, Institute of Economics, Tokyo, Japan)


This paper uses labour force survey data to examine the employment rates and employment decisions of women with young children in the United States, Britain and Japan. Our results confirm that young children have a very strong negative effect on women's employment; this effect is most pronounced in Britain. We then take advantage of panel data to investigate the effects of family leave coverage on women's job retention after childbirth. We find that family leave coverage increases the likelihood that a woman will return to her employer after childbirth in all three countries, with a particularly marked effect in Japan. This result suggests that the recent expansions in family leave coverage in the sample countries are likely to lead to increased employment of women after childbirth.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoshio Higuchi & Jane Waldfogel & Masahiro Abe, 1999. "Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: Evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(4), pages 523-545.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:12:y:1999:i:4:p:523-545
    Note: Received: 10 July 1997/Accepted: 8 June 1998

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth A. Couch & Thomas A. Dunn, 1997. "Intergenerational Correlations in Labor Market Status: A Comparison of the United States and Germany," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(1), pages 210-232.
    2. George J. Borjas, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-150.
    3. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
    4. van Ours, Jan C. & Veenman, Justus, 1999. "The Netherlands: Old Emigrants - Young Immigrant Country," IZA Discussion Papers 80, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Thomas Piketty, 1995. "Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 551-584.
    6. Ira N. Gang & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2000. "Is Child like Parent? Educational Attainment and Ethnic Origin," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 550-569.
    7. Checchi, Daniele & Ichino, Andrea & Rustichini, Aldo, 1999. "More equal but less mobile?: Education financing and intergenerational mobility in Italy and in the US," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(3), pages 351-393, December.
    8. repec:fth:tilbur:99117 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    10. Ira N. Gang, 1997. "Schooling, Parents and Country," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 66(1), pages 180-186.
    11. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-390, June.
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    More about this item


    Family leave · maternity leave · women's employment;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor


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