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Can Financial Incentives Reduce the Baby Gap? Evidence from a Reform in Maternity Leave Benefits

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  • Anna Raute

Abstract

To assess whether earnings-dependent maternity leave positively impacts fertility and narrows the baby gap between high educated (high earning) and low educated (low earning) women, I exploit a major maternity leave benefit reform in Germany that considerably increases the financial incentives for higher educated and higher earning women to have a child. In particular, I use the large differential changes in maternity leave benefits across education and income groups to estimate the effects on fertility up to 5 years post reform. In addition to demonstrating an up to 22% increase in the fertility of tertiary educated versus low educated women, I find a positive, statistically significant effect of increased benefits on fertility, driven mainly by women at the middle and upper end of the education and income distributions. Overall, the results suggest that earnings-dependent maternity leave benefits, which compensate women commensurate with their opportunity cost of childbearing, could successfully reduce the fertility rate disparity related to mothers’ education and earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Raute, 2017. "Can Financial Incentives Reduce the Baby Gap? Evidence from a Reform in Maternity Leave Benefits," NBER Working Papers 23793, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23793
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Liepmann, Hannah, 2018. "The Impact of a Negative Labor Demand Shock On Fertility - Evidence From the Fall of the Berlin Wall," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 69, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    2. Malte Sandner, 2015. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Fertility and Maternal Employment: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 799, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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