IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Effect of Prenatal Maternity Leave on Short and Long-Term Child Outcomes


  • Ahammer, Alexander

    () (University of Linz)

  • Halla, Martin

    () (University of Linz)

  • Schneeweis, Nicole

    () (University of Linz)


Maternity leave policies are presumed to be essential to ensure the health of pregnant workers and their unborn children. However, little is known about the optimal duration of prenatal maternity leave and existing policies are not evidence-based. We evaluate a substantial maternity leave extension in Austria, which increased mandatory leave prior to birth from six to eight weeks. Our estimation strategy exploits that the eligibility for the extended leave was determined by a cutoff due date. As an additional source of exogenous variation, we use information on non-working mothers, who are not eligible for maternity leave. Across estimations, we consistently find no evidence for significant effects of this extension on children's health at birth, subsequent maternal health and fertility, and longterm human capital outcomes of children. Our finding is confirmed by a supplementary cross-country panel analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Ahammer, Alexander & Halla, Martin & Schneeweis, Nicole, 2018. "The Effect of Prenatal Maternity Leave on Short and Long-Term Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 11394, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11394

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. Løken & Magne Mogstad & Kari Vea Salvanes, 2016. "What Is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(4), pages 655-670, October.
    2. Pedro Carneiro & Katrine V. Løken & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2015. "A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long-Run Outcomes of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 123(2), pages 365-412.
    3. Danzer, Natalia & Halla, Martin & Schneeweis, Nicole & Zweimüller, Martina, 2017. "Parental Leave, (In)formal Childcare and Long-term Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 10812, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Halla, Martin & Pruckner, Gerald J. & Schober, Thomas, 2016. "Cost savings of developmental screenings: Evidence from a nationwide program," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 120-135.
    5. Bharadwaj, Prashant & Johnsen, Julian V. & Løken, Katrine V., 2014. "Smoking bans, maternal smoking and birth outcomes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 72-93.
    6. Rasmussen, Astrid Würtz, 2010. "Increasing the length of parents' birth-related leave: The effect on children's long-term educational outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 91-100, January.
    7. Stearns, Jenna, 2015. "The effects of paid maternity leave: Evidence from Temporary Disability Insurance," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 85-102.
    8. Rossin, Maya, 2011. "The effects of maternity leave on children's birth and infant health outcomes in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 221-239, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Caroline Chuard, 2018. "Womb at work: the missing impact of maternal employment on newborn health," ECON - Working Papers 301, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.

    More about this item


    maternity leave; infant health; birth outcomes; birth weight; fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • I13 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Insurance, Public and Private
    • J83 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Workers' Rights
    • J88 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Public Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11394. 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: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.