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Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development


  • Michael Baker
  • Kevin Milligan


We study the impact of maternal care on early child development using an expansion in Canadian maternity leave entitlements. Following the leave expansion, mothers who took leave spent 48–58 percent more time not working in their children’s first year of life. This extra maternal care primarily crowded out home-based care by unlicensed nonrelatives and replaced full-time work. Our estimates suggest a weak impact of this increase in maternal care on indicators of child development. For example, measures of temperament and motor and social development show changes that are small and statistically insignificant.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2010. "Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:45:y:2010:i:1:p1-32

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Michael Baker & Jonathan Gruber & Kevin Milligan, 2008. "Universal Child Care, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(4), pages 709-745, August.
    2. Raquel Bernal & Michael P. Keane, 2011. "Child Care Choices and Children's Cognitive Achievement: The Case of Single Mothers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 459-512.
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    5. Milligan, Kevin & Stabile, Mark, 2007. "The integration of child tax credits and welfare: Evidence from the Canadian National Child Benefit program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 305-326, February.
    6. Loeb, Susanna & Bridges, Margaret & Bassok, Daphna & Fuller, Bruce & Rumberger, Russell W., 2007. "How much is too much? The influence of preschool centers on children's social and cognitive development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 52-66, February.
    7. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2005. "How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment and Infant Health?," NBER Working Papers 11135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    9. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
    10. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
    11. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    12. John Cawley & Feng Liu, 2007. "Mechanisms for the Association Between Maternal Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 13609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    15. Jane Waldfogel & Wen-Jui Han & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2002. "The effects of early maternal employment on child cognitive development," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(2), pages 369-392, May.
    16. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
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    JEL classification:

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


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