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Maternity Leave and Children's Cognitive and Behavioral Development

  • Michael Baker
  • Kevin S. Milligan

We investigate the impact of maternity leave on the cognitive and behavioral development of children at ages 4 and 5, following up previous research on these children at younger ages. The impact is identified by legislated increases in the duration of maternity leave in Canada, which significantly increased the amount of first-year maternal care. Our results indicate no positive effect on indices of children's cognitive and behavioral development. We uncover a small negative impact on cognitive scores, which may indicate the timing of the mother/child separation due to the mother's return to work plays a role.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17105.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2015. "Maternity leave and children’s cognitive and behavioral development," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 373-391, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17105
Note: CH
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  1. Nabanita Datta Gupta & Marianne Simonsen, 2007. "Non-cognitive Child Outcomes and Universal High Quality Child Care," Economics Working Papers 2007-17, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  2. Michael Baker, 2011. "Innis Lecture: Universal early childhood interventions: what is the evidence base?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1069-1105, November.
  3. Christian Dustmann & Uta Sch�nberg, 2012. "Expansions in Maternity Leave Coverage and Children's Long-Term Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 190-224, July.
  4. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  5. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2008. "How Does Job-Protected Maternity Leave Affect Mothers' Employment?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 655-691, October.
  6. Susanna Loeb & Margaret Bridges & Bruce Fuller & Russ Rumberger & Daphna Bassok, 2005. "How Much is Too Much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children's Social and Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 11812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Carneiro, Pedro & Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2010. "A Flying Start? Long Term Consequences of Maternal Time Investments in Children During Their First Year of Life," IZA Discussion Papers 5362, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan & Matthieu Verstraete, 2008. "Childcare Policy and Cognitive Outcomes of Children: Results from a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment on Universal Childcare in Canada," Cahiers de recherche 0823, CIRPEE.
  9. 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.
  10. Michael Baker & Kevin Milligan, 2015. "Maternity leave and children’s cognitive and behavioral development," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 28(2), pages 373-391, April.
  11. Raquel Bernal, 2008. "The Effect Of Maternal Employment And Child Care On Children'S Cognitive Development," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1173-1209, November.
  12. Katherine A. Magnuson & Christopher J. Ruhm & Jane Waldfogel, 2004. "Does Prekindergarten Improve School Preparation and Performance?," NBER Working Papers 10452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jane Waldfogel, 2006. "What do children need?," Public Policy Review, Institute for Public Policy Research, vol. 13(1), pages 26-34.
  14. Liu, Qian & Nordström Skans, Oskar, 2009. "The Duration of Paid Parental Leave and Children's Scholastic Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 4244, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. 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.
  16. Natalia Danzer & Victor Lavy, 2013. "Parental Leave and Children's Schooling Outcomes: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from a Large Parental Leave Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 4488, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Michael Baker & Kevin S. Milligan, 2007. "Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates," NBER Working Papers 13188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Maria Hanratty & Eileen Trzcinski, 2009. "Who benefits from paid family leave? Impact of expansions in Canadian paid family leave on maternal employment and transfer income," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 693-711, July.
  19. 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).
  20. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2000. "Parental Employment and Child Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 7666, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Baker, Michael, 2011. "Universal Early Childhood Interventions: What is the Evidence Base?," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2011-29, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 28 Nov 2011.
  22. Pinka Chatterji & Sara Markowitz, 2005. "Does the Length of Maternity Leave Affect Maternal Health?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 16–41, July.
  23. 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.
  24. Raquel Bernal & Michael P. Keane, 2011. "Child Care Choices and Children's Cognitive Achievement: The Case of Single Mothers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 459 - 512.
  25. 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.
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