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Labour Market Effects of Parental Leave Policies in OECD Countries


  • Olivier Thévenon


  • Anne Solaz


This paper considers how entitlements to paid leave after the birth of children affect female labour market outcomes across countries. Such entitlements are granted for various lengths of time and paid at different rates, reflecting the influence of different objectives including: enhancing children’s wellbeing, promoting labour supply, furthering gender equality in labour market outcomes, as well as budget constraints. Although parental care is beneficial for children, there are concerns about the consequences of prolonged periods of leave for labour market outcomes and gender equality. This paper therefore looks at the long-run consequences of extended paid leave on female, male, and gender differences in prime-age (25-54) employment rates, average working hours, and earnings in 30 OECD countries from 1970 to 2010. It finds that extensions of paid leave lengths have a positive, albeit small, influence on female employment rates and on the gender ratio of employment, as long as the total period of paid leave is no longer than approximately two years. Additional weeks of leave, however, exert a negative effect on female employment and the gender employment gap. This paper also finds that weeks of paid leave positively affect the average number of hours worked by women relative to men, though on condition – once again – that the total duration of leave does not exceed certain limits. By contrast, the provision of paid leave widens the earnings gender gap among full-time employees.

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  • Olivier Thévenon & Anne Solaz, 2013. "Labour Market Effects of Parental Leave Policies in OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 141, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:141-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Stichnoth, Holger, 2014. "Short-run fertility effects of parental leave benefits: Evidence from a structural model," ZEW Discussion Papers 14-069, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Maurizio Bussolo & Johannes Koettl & Emily Sinnott, 2015. "Golden Aging," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 22018.
    3. Beatrice Scheubel, 2014. "Does It Pay to Be a Woman?: Labour Demand Effects of Maternity-Related Job Protection and Replacement Incomes," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 685, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    4. repec:eee:wdevel:v:96:y:2017:i:c:p:102-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Del Rey, Elena & Racionero, Maria & Silva, Jose I., 2017. "On the effect of parental leave duration on unemployment and wages," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 14-17.
    6. Salverda, Wiemer & Checchi, Daniele, 2014. "Labour-Market Institutions and the Dispersion of Wage Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 8220, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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