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Parental Leave and Child Health

  • Christopher J. Ruhm

This study investigates whether rights to paid parental leave improve pediatric health, as measured by birth weights and infant or child mortality. Aggregate data are used for nine European countries over the 1969 through 1994 period. Year and country fixed-effects are held constant and most specifications include additional covariates or control for country-specific time trends. Much of the analysis incorporates a natural experiments comparing changes in pediatric outcomes to those of senior citizens, whose health is not expected to be affected by parental leave. More generous leave rights are found to reduce deaths of infants and young children. The magnitudes of the estimated effects are substantial, especially for those outcomes where a causal effect of parental leave is most plausible. In particular, there is a much stronger negative relationship between leave durations and post-neonatal mortality or fatalities between the first and fifth birthday than for perinatal mortality, neonatal deaths, or the incidence of low birth weight. The evidence further suggests that parental leave may be a cost-effective method of bettering child health.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6554.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6554.

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Date of creation: May 1998
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Publication status: published as Ruhm, Christopher J. "Parental Leave And Child Health," Journal of Health Economics, 2000, v19(6,Nov), 931-960.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6554
Note: CH HC HE LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. 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, vol. 9(3), pages 267-285.
  2. Susan L. Averett & Leslie A. Whittington, 2001. "Does Maternity Leave Induce Births?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 403-417, October.
  3. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "The Technology of Birth: Health Insurance, Medical Interventions, and Infant Health," NBER Working Papers 5985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996. "Wealthier is Healthier," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
  5. 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, vol. 9(3), pages 247-66, August.
  6. Christopher J. Ruhm, 1996. "The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe," NBER Working Papers 5688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ettner, Susan L., 1996. "New evidence on the relationship between income and health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 67-85, February.
  8. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
  9. Warner, Geoffrey L, 1995. "Prenatal Care Demand and Birthweight Production of Black Mothers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 132-37, May.
  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, vol. 9(3), pages 267-85, August.
  11. Mark R. Rosenzweig & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1988. "Heterogeneity, Intrafamily Distribution, and Child Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 437-461.
  12. 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.
  13. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
  14. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-96, December.
  15. Sherry Glied, 1999. "The Value of Reductions in Child Injury Mortality in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 7204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Michael Grossman & Theodore J. Joyce, 1988. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birthweight Production Functions in New York City," NBER Working Papers 2746, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Corman, Hope & Grossman, Michael, 1985. "Determinants of neonatal mortality rates in the U.S. : A reduced form model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 213-236, September.
  18. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1983. "Estimating a Household Production Function: Heterogeneity, the Demand for Health Inputs, and Their Effects on Birth Weight," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 723-46, October.
  19. Siv Gustafsson & Frank P. Stafford, 1994. "Three Regimes of Child Care: The United States, the Netherlands, and Sweden," NBER Chapters, in: Social Protection versus Economic Flexibility: Is There a Trade-Off?, pages 333-362 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Richard G. Frank & Donna Strobino & David S. Salkever & Catherine A. Jackson, 1991. "Updated Estimates of the Impact of Prenatal Care on Birthweight Outcomes by Race," NBER Working Papers 3624, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Horst Siebert, 1997. "Labor Market Rigidities: At the Root of Unemployment in Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 37-54, Summer.
  22. Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "The impact of the family and medical leave act," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 281-302.
  23. Jacob Alex Klerman & Arleen Leibowitz, 1994. "The Work-Employment Distinction among New Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 277-303.
  24. David M. Blau & David K. Guilkey & Barry M. Popkin, 1996. "Infant Health and the Labor Supply of Mothers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 90-139.
  25. Blackburn, McKinley L., 1997. "Misspecified skedastic functions in grouped-data models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 1-8, August.
  26. Stephen Nickell, 1997. "Unemployment and Labor Market Rigidities: Europe versus North America," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 55-74, Summer.
  27. Klerman, J.A., 1993. "Characterizing Leave for Maternity: Modeling the NLS-Y Data," Papers 93-34, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  28. Blank, Rebecca Margaret, 2006. "Introduction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(6), pages 665-666, December.
  29. W. Frisbie & Douglas Forbes & Starling Pullum, 1996. "Compromised birth outcomes and infant mortality among racial and ethnic groups," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 469-481, November.
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