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When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers' Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health

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  • Petra Persson
  • Maya Rossin-Slater

Abstract

While workplace flexibility is perceived to be a key determinant of maternal labor supply, less is known about fathers’ demand for flexibility or about intra-household spillover effects of flexibility initiatives. This paper examines these issues in the context of a critical period in family life—the months immediately following childbirth—and identifies the impacts of paternal access to workplace flexibility on maternal postpartum health. We model household demand for paternal presence at home as a function of domestic stochastic shocks, and use variation from a Swedish reform that granted new fathers more flexibility to take intermittent parental leave during the postpartum period in a regression discontinuity difference-in-differences (RD-DD) design. We find that increasing the father’s temporal flexibility reduces the risk of the mother experiencing physical postpartum health complications and improves her mental health. Our results suggest that mothers bear the burden from a lack of workplace flexibility—not only directly through greater career costs of family formation, as previously documented—but also indirectly, as fathers’ inability to respond to domestic shocks exacerbates the maternal health costs of childbearing.

Suggested Citation

  • Petra Persson & Maya Rossin-Slater, 2019. "When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers' Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health," NBER Working Papers 25902, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25902
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerst, Benedikt & Grund, Christian, 2020. "Gender-Specific Duration of Parental Leave and Current Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 13216, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Lee, Bethany C. & Modrek, Sepideh & White, Justin S. & Batra, Akansha & Collin, Daniel F. & Hamad, Rita, 2020. "The effect of California's paid family leave policy on parent health: A quasi-experimental study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 251(C).
    3. Khan, Mariam S., 2020. "Paid family leave and children health outcomes in OECD countries," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    4. Fontenay, Sébastien & Tojerow, Ilan, 2020. "Work Disability after Motherhood and How Paternity Leave Can Help," IZA Discussion Papers 13756, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Jonas Lau-Jensen Hirani & Hans Henrik Sievertsen & Miriam Wust, 2020. "The Timing of Early Interventions and Child and Maternal Health," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 20/720, School of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    6. Hirani, Jonas Lau-Jensen & Sievertsen, Hans Henrik & Wüst, Miriam, 2020. "Missing a Nurse Visit," IZA Discussion Papers 13485, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
      • Miriam Wüst & Jonas Lau-Jensen Hirani & Hans Henrik Sievertsen, 2021. "Missing a Nurse Visit," CEBI working paper series 20-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. The Center for Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI).
    7. Jonas Lau-Jensen Hirani & Hans Henrik Sievertsen & Miriam Wüst & Johannes Wohlfart, 2020. "Missing a Nurse Visit," Discussion Papers 20-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    8. LEBIHAN, Laetitia & MAO TAKONGMO, Charles Olivier, 2019. "The Effect of Paid Parental Leave on Breastfeeding, Parental Health and Behavior," MPRA Paper 95719, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. KONDO Keisuke, 2020. "A Structural Estimation of the Disutility of Commuting," Discussion papers 20031, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    10. Marc Jourdain Muizon, 2020. "Subsidies for parental leave and formal childcare: be careful what you wish for," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(3), pages 735-772, September.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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