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Barefoot and in a German kitchen: Federal parental leave and benefit policy and the return to work after childbirth in Germany


  • C. Katharina Spiess

    (Center for Policy Research, Syracuse University, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-3114, USA)

  • Jan Ondrich

    (Department of Economics, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-3114, USA)

  • Qing Yang

    (Department of Economics, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-3114, USA)


Since 1979 German federal maternity leave and benefit policy has given women incentives to stay at home and take care of their newborn and youngest children. In 1986 this leave and benefit policy was changed in several ways, turning it into a powerful instrument for delaying mothers` return to work after childbirth. Using a flexible duration dependence estimation technique for proportional hazards due to Prentice and Gloeckler (1978) and applied to grouped durations by Meyer (1987, 1990), we estimate post childbirth return to work hazards for women during the federally protected leave protection period and immediately upon completion of this leave period. During the leave mothers are less likely to return to work the longer is the time left in the leave protection period; however, this result cannot be attributed generally to high levels of maternity benefits. When the leave protection period ends, mothers with strong labor force attachment who are still on leave return to their jobs.

Suggested Citation

  • C. Katharina Spiess & Jan Ondrich & Qing Yang, 1996. "Barefoot and in a German kitchen: Federal parental leave and benefit policy and the return to work after childbirth in Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(3), pages 247-266.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:9:y:1996:i:3:p:247-266
    Note: Received August 30, 1995 / Accepted June 18, 1996

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Maternity leave · childbirth · labor force participation;

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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