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An Internatioal Comparison and Assessment of Maternity Leave Regulation

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  • Dorothea Alewell, Kerstin Pull

    () (University of Jena, Faculty of Economics)

Abstract

Provisions for maternity leave are common among industrialized countries, but their institutional design varies distinctly from country to country. Developing our theory on the impact on maternity leave regulations on women's labor market situation, we argue that a woman on leave creates a re-organization problem for her employer. The costs of re-organization will not simply increase with the duration of maternity leave, but display a hump-shaped curvature which peeks at medium-leave duration. More than its expected duration, however, the predictability of leave duration influences the process of re-organization. Employer co-financed maternity pay further adds to the costs of re-organization. We then use this theory to analyze and compare the costs of maternity leave stipulations in the United States, the UK, Netherlands, Japan, Germany, and Denmark by assessing in detail the legal provisions on leave durations, leave predictability and employer-co-financed maternity pay. We rank the countries under consideration according to the re-organizations costs their maternity leave regulations impose on employers and derive hypotheses about the effect on women's labor market situation. Following our theoretical analysis, we review the existing empirical literature on maternity leave: While existing surveys among employers and working mothers are in line with our theoretical considerations, the mixed evidence presented in the existing econometric studies concerning the effect of leave duration on female wages and labor force participation may result from having excluded the issue of predictability of leave duration as well as the question of co-financed maternity pay. We close with (tentative) conclusions for the design of maternity leave provisions, which are currently being discussed and revised in many countries around the world.

Suggested Citation

  • Dorothea Alewell, Kerstin Pull, 2001. "An Internatioal Comparison and Assessment of Maternity Leave Regulation," Working Paper Series A 2001-02, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  • Handle: RePEc:jen:jenabe:2001-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shelley Phipps & Peter Burton & Lynn Lethbridge, 2001. "In and out of the labour market: long-term income consequences of child-related interruptions to women's paid work," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 411-429, May.
    2. Ondrich, Jan & Spiess, C Katharina & Yang, Qing, 1996. "Barefoot and in a German Kitchen: Federal Parental Leave and Benefit Policy and the Return to Work after Childbirth in Germany," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(3), pages 247-266, August.
    3. Marit RÃnsen & Marianne SundstrÃm, 1996. "Maternal employment in Scandinavia: A comparison of the after-birth employment activity of Norwegian and Swedish women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(3), pages 267-285.
    4. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1997. "Policy Watch: The Family and Medical Leave Act," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 175-186, Summer.
    5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
    6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1998. "The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 285-317.
    7. Olivia S. Mitchell, 1990. "The Effects of Mandating Benefits Packages," NBER Working Papers 3260, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Joshi, Heather & Paci, Pierella & Waldfogel, Jane, 1999. "The Wages of Motherhood: Better or Worse?," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(5), pages 543-564, September.
    9. 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.
    10. Ronsen, Marit & Sundstrom, Marianne, 1996. "Maternal Employment in Scandinavia: A Comparison of the After-Birth Employment Activity of Norwegian and Swedish Women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 9(3), pages 267-285, August.
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    1. repec:iab:iabzaf:v:38:i:2/3:p:341-356 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:bla:obuest:v:79:y:2017:i:5:p:689-716 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Melanie Arntz & Stephan Dlugosz & Ralf A. Wilke, 2017. "The Sorting of Female Careers after First Birth: A Competing Risks Analysis of Maternity Leave Duration," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(5), pages 689-716, October.
    4. Dorothea Alewell & Kerstin Pull, 2005. "Die Neugestaltung der Finanzierung des Mutterschutzes - ein Kommentar zum Mutterschutz-Urteil des Bundesverfassungsgerichtes," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 58(04), pages 22-27, February.
    5. Alewell, Dorothea & Pull, Kerstin, 2005. "Rechtsschutz für Mütter : eine ökonomische Analyse des Mutterschutzgesetzes und seiner Wirkungen auf die Beschäftigungssituation von Frauen (Legal protection for mothers * an economic analysis of the ," Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung - Journal for Labour Market Research, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany], vol. 38(2/3), pages 341-356.

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