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The Value Of Postponing Pregnancy: California’S Paid Family Leave And The Timing Of Pregnancies

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  • Shirlee Lichtman

    () (BGU)

Abstract

Conditioning a monetary benefit on individuals’ family status can create distortions, even in individuals’ seemingly personal decisions, such as the birth of a child. Birth timing and its response to various policies has been studied by economists in several papers. However, pregnancy timing - i.e. the timing of conception - and its response to policy announcements has not been examined. This paper makes use of a 21-month lag between announcing California’s introduction of the first paid parental leave program in the United States and its scheduled implementation to evaluate whether women timed their pregnancies in order to be eligible for the expected benefit. Using natality data, documenting all births in the United States, a difference-in-differences approach compares California births to births in states outside of California before the program’s introduction and in 2004, the year California introduced paid parental leave. The results show that the distribution of California births in 2004 significantly shifted from the first half of the year to the second half of the year, immediately after the program’s implementation. While the effect is present for all population segments of new mothers, it is largest for disadvantaged mothers -with lower education levels, of Hispanic origin, younger, and not married. These results shed light on the population segments most affected by the introduction of paid parental leave and on the equitable nature of paid parental leave policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Shirlee Lichtman, 2013. "The Value Of Postponing Pregnancy: California’S Paid Family Leave And The Timing Of Pregnancies," Working Papers 1310, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bgu:wpaper:1310
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    File URL: http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/humsos/Econ/Workingpapers/1310.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gans, Joshua S. & Leigh, Andrew, 2009. "Born on the first of July: An (un)natural experiment in birth timing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 246-263, February.
    2. Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Elder, Todd, 2010. "Suburban legend: School cutoff dates and the timing of births," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 826-841, October.
    3. Tamm, Marcus, 2013. "The Impact of a Large Parental Leave Benefit Reform on the Timing of Birth around the Day of Implementation," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 585-601.
    4. Wen-Jui Han & Christopher Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel, 2009. "Parental leave policies and parents' employment and leave-taking," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 29-54.
    5. Maya Rossin‐Slater & Christopher J. Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel, 2013. "The Effects of California's Paid Family Leave Program on Mothers’ Leave‐Taking and Subsequent Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 224-245, March.
    6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 285-317.
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