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How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment and Infant Health?

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  • Michael Baker
  • Kevin Milligan

Abstract

Maternity leaves can affect mothers' and infants' welfare if they first affect the amount of time working women stay at home post birth. We provide new evidence of the labor supply effects of these leaves from an analysis of the introduction and expansion of job-protected maternity leave in Canada. The substantial variation in leave entitlements across mothers by time and space is likely exogenous to their unobserved characteristics. This is important because unobserved heterogeneity correlated with leave entitlement potentially biases many previous studies of this topic. We find that modest mandates of 17-18 weeks do not increase the time mothers spend at home. The physical demands of birth and private arrangements appear to render short mandates redundant. These mandates do, however, decrease the proportion of women quitting their jobs, increase leave taking, and increase the proportion returning to their pre-birth employers. In contrast, we find that expansions of job-protected leaves to lengths up to 70 weeks do increase the time spent at home (as well as leave-taking and job continuity). We also examine whether this increase in time at home affects infant health, finding no evidence of an effect on the incidence of low birth weight or infant mortality.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11135
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    11. Waldfogel, Jane, 1998. "The Family Gap for Young Women in the United States and Britain: Can Maternity Leave Make a Difference?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(3), pages 505-545, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joanna Osiñska, 2013. "Postawy wzglêdem euro i ich determinanty– przegl¹d badañ i literatury przedmiotu," Working Papers 70, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    2. Rafael Lalive & Josef Zweim�ller, "undated". "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.
    3. Mikal Skuterud, 2008. "Perinatal Family Labour Supply: Historical Trends and the Modern Experience," Working Papers 08001, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2008.
    4. Rafael Lalive & Analía Schlosser & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2014. "Parental Leave and Mothers' Careers: The Relative Importance of Job Protection and Cash Benefits," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 219-265.
    5. Würtz, Astrid, 2007. "The Long-Term Effect on Children of Increasing the Length of Parents' Birth-Related Leave," Working Papers 07-11, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
    6. Lalive, Rafael & Zweimüller, Josef, 2005. "Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a "True Natural Experiment"," IZA Discussion Papers 1613, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Tatiana Karabchuk, 2016. "The subjective well-being of women in Europe: children, work and employment protection legislation," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 15(2), pages 219-245, November.
    8. Schönberg, Uta & Ludsteck, Johannes, 2007. "Maternity Leave Legislation, Female Labor Supply, and the Family Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 2699, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Anna Matysiak & Dorota Węziak-Białowolska, 2016. "Country-Specific Conditions for Work and Family Reconciliation: An Attempt at Quantification," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 32(4), pages 475-510, October.
    10. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2010. "Evidence from Maternity Leave Expansions of the Impact of Maternal Care on Early Child Development," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
    11. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2008. "Family Leave after Childbirth and the Health of New Mothers," NBER Working Papers 14156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Zhang, Xuelin, 2008. "The Post-childbirth Employment of Canadian Mothers and the Earnings Trajectories of Their Continuously Employed Counterparts, 1983 to 2004," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2008314e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    13. Baker, Michael & Milligan, Kevin, 2008. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 871-887, July.
    14. Anna Cristina D’Addio & Simon Chapple & Andreas Hoherz & Bert Van Landeghem, 2014. "Using a quasi-natural experiment to identify the effects of birth-related leave policies on subjective well-being in Europe," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2013(1), pages 235-268.
    15. Marcela Perticara & Claudia Sanhueza, 2010. "Women’s Employment after Childbirth," ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers inv258, Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines.
    16. Zhang, Xuelin, 2008. "Emploi des meres canadiennes apres la naissance d'un enfant et trajectoires des gains de leurs homologues occupees de facon continue, 1983 a 2004," Direction des etudes analytiques : documents de recherche 2008314f, Statistics Canada, Direction des etudes analytiques.
    17. Andrea Bassanini & Danielle Venn, 2008. "The Impact of Labour Market Policies on Productivity in OECD Countries," International Productivity Monitor, Centre for the Study of Living Standards, vol. 17, pages 3-15, Fall.
    18. Chiara Pronzato, 2009. "Return to work after childbirth: does parental leave matter in Europe?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 341-360, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions

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