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The duration of paid parental leave and children’s scholastic performance

  • Liu, Qian


    (Department of Economics, Uppsala University)

  • Nordström Skans, Oskar


    (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)

We study how the duration of paid parental leave affects the accumulation of cognitive skills among children. We use a reform which extended parental leave benefits from 12 to 15 months for Swedish children born after August 1988 to evaluate the effects of prolonged parental leave on children’s test scores and grades at age 16. We show that, on average, the reform had no effect on children’s scholastic performance. However, we do find positive effects for children of well-educated mothers, a result that is robust to a number of different specifications. We find no corresponding heterogeneity relative to parental earnings or fathers’ education, or relative to other predictors of child performance. We find no effects on intermediate outcomes such as mothers’ subsequent earnings, child health, parental fertility, divorce rates, or the mothers’ mental health. Overall the results suggest positive causal interaction effects between mothers’ education and the amount of time mothers spend with their children. Since the institutional context is one in which the alternative is subsidized day care, the results imply that subsidizing longer parental leave spells rather than day care reinforce the relationship between maternal education and school outcomes.

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Paper provided by IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy in its series Working Paper Series with number 2009:14.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: 09 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2009_014
Contact details of provider: Postal: IFAU, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Phone: (+46) 18 - 471 70 70
Fax: (+46) 18 - 471 70 71
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  1. Dustmann, Christian & Schönberg, Uta, 2008. "The Effect of Expansions in Maternity Leave Coverage on Children's Long-Term Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 3605, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Anders Björklund & Mikael Lindahl & Erik Plug, 2006. "The Origins of Intergenerational Associations: Lessons from Swedish Adoption Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 999-1028, 08.
  3. James Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," Working Papers 0028, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  4. Ruhm, Christopher J., 2000. "Parental leave and child health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 931-960, November.
  5. Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2006. "Is early learning really more productive? The effect of school starting age on school and labor market performance," Working Paper Series 2006:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  6. Schildberg-Hoerisch, Hannah, 2011. "Does parental employment affect children's educational attainment?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1456-1467.
  7. Liu, Haiyong & Mroz, Thomas A. & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2010. "Maternal employment, migration, and child development," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 212-228, May.
  8. Pettersson-Lidbom, Per & Skogman Thoursie, Peter, 2009. "Does child spacing affect children’s outcomes? Evidence from a Swedish reform," Working Paper Series 2009:7, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  9. Carneiro, Pedro & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2011. "A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long Run Outcomes of Children," IZA Discussion Papers 5793, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Charles L. Baum II, 2003. "Does Early Maternal Employment Harm Child Development? An Analysis of the Potential Benefits of Leave Taking," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 381-408, April.
  11. Åslund, Olof & Grönqvist, Hans, 2010. "Family size and child outcomes: Is there really no trade-off?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 130-139, January.
  12. Paul Gregg & Elizabeth Washbrook & Carol Propper & Simon Burgess, 2005. "The Effects of a Mother's Return to Work Decision on Child Development in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F48-F80, 02.
  13. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
  14. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweimüller, . "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a ”True Natural Experiment”," IEW - Working Papers 242, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  16. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
  17. 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, 08.
  18. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2004. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Composition on Children's Education," IZA Discussion Papers 1269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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