What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?
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.
|Date of creation:||23 Oct 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway|
Web page: http://www.uib.no/econ/en
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- 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.
- Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. L?ken & Magne Mogstad, 2014.
"Peer Effects in Program Participation,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2049-74, July.
- Dahl, Gordon B. & Løken, Katrine V. & Mogstad, Magne, 2012. "Peer Effects In Program Participation," Working Papers in Economics 12/12, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
- Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad, 2012. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," NBER Working Papers 18198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dahl, Gordon B. & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne, 2012. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," IZA Discussion Papers 6681, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine Vellesen Loken & Magne Mogstad, 2013. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4349, CESifo Group Munich.
- Mari Rege & Ingeborg F. Solli, 2010.
"The Impact of Paternity Leave on Long-term Father Involvement,"
CESifo Working Paper Series
3130, CESifo Group Munich.
- Rege, Mari & Solli, Ingebor F, 2010. "The impact of paternity leave on long-term father involvement," UiS Working Papers in Economics and Finance 2010/4, University of Stavanger.
- Yoshio Higuchi & Jane Waldfogel & Masahiro Abe, 1999. "Family leave policies and women's retention after childbirth: Evidence from the United States, Britain, and Japan," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(4), pages 523-545.
- Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
- David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009.
"Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics,"
NBER Working Papers
14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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).
- Blundell, Richard & Graber, Michael & Mogstad, Magne, 2015. "Labor income dynamics and the insurance from taxes, transfers, and the family," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 58-73.
- Richard Blundell & Michael Graber & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Labor income dynamics and the insurance from taxes, transfers and the family," IFS Working Papers W14/01, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, 2009. "How Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return to Work? Evidence from Two Natural Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1363-1402.
- Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007.
"Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice,"
NBER Technical Working Papers
0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
- Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Working Papers 13039, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998.
"Parental Leave and Child Health,"
NBER Working Papers
6554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.