Maternity leave in turbulent times: effects on labor market transitions and fertility in Russia, 1985-2000
Maternity leave policies are designed to ease the tension between women’s employment and fertility, but whether they actually play such a role remains unclear. We analyze the individual-level effects of maternity leave on employment outcomes and on second conception rates among Russian first-time mothers from 1985-2000 using retrospective job and fertility histories from the Survey of Stratification and Migration Dynamics in Russia. During this period Russia experienced tremendous economic and political turbulence, which many observers believed would undermine policies like maternity leave and otherwise adversely affect the situation of women. Nevertheless, we find that maternity leave helped women maintain a foothold in the labor market, especially during the more turbulent post-transition period. Also, women who took extended leave in connection with their first birth had elevated rates of second conceptions once they returned to the workforce.
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