IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?

  • B. Dahl, Gordon

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of California San Diego)

  • V. Løken, Katrine

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Bergen)

  • Mogstad, Magne

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University College London & Research Department, Statistics Norway)

  • Vea Salvanes, Kari

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Oslo)

Paid maternity leave has gained greater salience in the past few decades as mothers have increasingly entered the workforce. Indeed, the median number of weeks of paid leave to mothers among OECD countries was 14 in 1980, but had risen to 42 by 2011. We assess the case for paid maternity leave, focusing on parents' responses to a series of policy reforms in Norway which expanded paid leave from 18 to 35 weeks (without changing the length of job protection). Our first empirical result is that none of the reforms seem to crowd out unpaid leave. Each reform increases the amount of time spent at home versus work by roughly the increased numb er of weeks allowed. Since income replacement was 100% for most women, the reforms caused an increase in mother's time spent at home after birth, without a reduction in family income. Our second set of empirical results reveals the expansions had little effect on a wide variety of outcomes, including children's school outcomes, parental earnings and participation in the lab or market in the short or long run, completed fertility, marriage or divorce. Not only is there no evidence that each expansion in isolation had economically signicant effects, but this null result holds even if we cumulate our estimates across all expansions from 18 to 35 weeks. Our third finding is that paid maternity leave has negative redistribution properties. The program makes regressive transfers both from ineligibles to eligibles and within the group of eligible mothers. Since there was no crowd out of unpaid leave, the extra leave benefits amounted to a pure leisure transfer, primarily to middle and upper income families. Finally, we investigate the financial costs of the extensions in paid maternity leave. We find these reforms had little impact on parents' future tax payments and benefit receipt. As a result, the large increases in public spending on maternity leave imply a considerable increase in taxes, at a cost to economic efficiency. Taken together, our finding suggest the generous extensions to paid leave were costly, had no measurable effect on outcomes and poor redistribution properties. In a time of harsh budget realities, our findings have important implications for countries that are considering future expansions or contractions in the duration of paid leave.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.uib.no/sites/w3.uib.no/files/attachments/wp9.13.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Bergen, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 09/13.

as
in new window

Length: 69 pages
Date of creation: 23 Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2013_009
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Phone: (+47)55589200
Fax: (+47)55589210
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine Vellesen Loken & Magne Mogstad, 2013. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4349, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tarjei Havnes & Magne Mogstad, 2011. "No Child Left Behind: Subsidized Child Care and Children's Long-Run Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 97-129, May.
  4. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Blundell, Richard & Graber, Michael & Mogstad, Magne, 2014. "Labor Income Dynamics and the Insurance from Taxes, Transfers, and the Family," IZA Discussion Papers 7916, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
  7. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
  8. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2013_009. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kjell Erik Lommerud)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.