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Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a "True Natural Experiment"

  • Lalive, Rafael

    ()

    (University of Lausanne)

  • Zweimüller, Josef

    ()

    (University of Zurich)

We study the causal effects of changes in parental leave provisions on fertility and return-to-work behavior. We exploit a policy change that took place in 1990 in Austria which extended the maximum duration of parental leave from the child's first to the child's second birthday. As parental leave benefits can be automatically renewed when a new mother is still on leave from a previous child, this created a strong incentive to "bunch" the time off work in case of multiple planned children and/or to increase fertility. We study the quantitative effect of this incentive using an empirical strategy which resembles a true experimental set-up very closely. In particular, assignment to treatment is random and treated and controls face (almost) identical environmental conditions. We find that treated mothers have a 4.9 percentage points (or 15 percent) higher probability to get an additional child within the following three years; and a 3.9 percentage points higher probability in the following ten years. This suggests that not only the timing but also the number of children were affected by the policy change. We also find that parental leave rules have a strong effect on mothers' return-to-work behavior. Per additional months of maximum parental leave duration, mothers' time off work is reduced by 0.4 to 0.5 months. The effects of a subsequent policy change in 1996 when maximum parental leave duration was reduced from the child’s second birthday to the date when the child became 18 months old brought about no change in fertility behavior, but a labor supply effect that is comparable in magnitude to the one generated by the 1990 policy change. This can be rationalized by the incentives created through automatic benefit renewal.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1613.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1613
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  1. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe," NBER Working Papers 5688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  3. Laroque, Guy & Salanié, Bernard, 2003. "Fertility and Financial Incentives in France," CEPR Discussion Papers 4064, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2002. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior? A Look at the Family Cap," NBER Working Papers 9093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2002. "Estimating Welfare Effects Consistent with Forward-Looking Behavior. Part II: Empirical Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 600-622.
  6. John Ermisch, 1988. "Econometric Analysis of Birth Rate Dynamics in Britain," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 563-576.
  7. Hotz, V Joseph & Miller, Robert A, 1988. "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 91-118, January.
  8. Pylkkänen, Elina & Smith, Nina, 2004. "The Impact of Family-Friendly Policies in Denmark and Sweden on Mothers' Career Interruptions Due to Childbirth," IZA Discussion Papers 1050, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Moffitt, Robert, 1984. "Profiles of Fertility, Labour Supply and Wages of Married Women: A Complete Life-Cycle Model," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 263-78, April.
  10. Christopher J. Ruhm & Jackqueline L. Teague, 1995. "Parental Leave Policies in Europe and North America," NBER Working Papers 5065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "The Demand for and Supply of Births: Fertility and Its Life Cycle Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 992-1015, December.
  12. Jacob Klerman & Arleen Leibowitz, 1999. "Job continuity among new mothers," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 145-155, May.
  13. Sakiko Tanaka, 2005. "Parental leave and child health across OECD countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F7-F28, 02.
  14. Leslie Whittington, 1992. "Taxes and the Family: The impact of the tax exemption for dependents on marital fertility," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 215-226, May.
  15. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
  16. Boyer, George R, 1989. "Malthus Was Right after All: Poor Relief and Birth Rates in Southeastern England," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 93-114, February.
  17. Leslie A. Whittington & James Alm & H. Elizabeth Peters, . "Fertility and the Personal Exemption: Implicit Pronatalist Policy in the United States," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 89-6, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  18. Daniela Del Boca, 2002. "The effect of child care and part time opportunities on participation and fertility decisions in Italy," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 549-573.
  19. Del Boca, Daniela & Pasqua, Silvia & Pronzato, Chiara D., 2004. "Why Are Fertility and Women's Employment Rates So Low in Italy? Lessons from France and the U.K," IZA Discussion Papers 1274, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Kevin Milligan, 2002. "Subsidizing the Stork: New Evidence on Tax Incentives and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 8845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Lawrence M. Berger & Jennifer Hill & Jane Waldfogel, 2005. "Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child health and development in the US," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(501), pages F29-F47, 02.
  22. Joseph Hotz, V. & Klerman, Jacob Alex & Willis, Robert J., 1993. "The economics of fertility in developed countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 275-347 Elsevier.
  23. Ted Joyce & Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman & Stanley Henshaw, 2004. "Family Cap Provisions and Changes in Births and Abortions," NBER Working Papers 10214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2002. "Estimating Welfare Effects Consistent with Forward-Looking Behavior. Part I: Lessons from a Simulation Exercise," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 570-599.
  25. Susan L. Averett & Leslie A. Whittington, 2001. "Does Maternity Leave Induce Births?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 403-417, October.
  26. Marco Francesconi, 2002. "A Joint Dynamic Model of Fertility and Work of Married Women," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 336-380, Part.
  27. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2005. "How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment and Infant Health?," NBER Working Papers 11135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:41-74 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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.
  30. Jan M. Hoem & Alexia Prskawetz & Gerda R. Neyer, 2001. "Autonomy or conservative adjustment? The effect of public policies and educational attainment on third births in Austria," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2001-016, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  31. Mark R. Rosenzweig, 1999. "Welfare, Marital Prospects, and Nonmarital Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S3-S32, December.
  32. Lawrence M. Berger & Jane Waldfogel, 2004. "Maternity leave and the employment of new mothers in the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 331-349, 06.
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