Jenna E. Stearns

Department of Economics
University of California, Davis
One Shields Ave
Davis, CA 95616

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of California at Davis

NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2018Unequal Use of Social Insurance Benefits: The Role of Employers
with Sarah Bana, Kelly Bedard, Maya Rossin-Slater: w25163
California's Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL) programs have become important sources of social insurance, with benefit payments now exceeding those of the state's Unemployment Insurance program. However, there is considerable inequality in program take-up. While existing research shows that firm-specific factors explain a significant part of the growing earnings inequality in the U.S., little is known about the role of firms in determining the use of public leave-taking benefits. Using administrative data from California, we find strong evidence that DI and PFL program take-up is substantially higher in firms with high earnings premiums. A one standard deviation increase in the firm premium is associated with a 57 percent higher claim rate incidence. Our results sugges...
June 2018The Long-Run Effects of Wage Replacement and Job Protection: Evidence from Two Maternity Leave Reforms in Great Britain
in Trans-Atlantic Public Economics Seminar 2018, Hilary W. Hoynes, Camille Landais, and Johannes Spinnewijn, organizers
This paper examines the effects of maternity leave coverage on women’s employment and career trajectories in Great Britain using data from the British Household Panel Survey. Using a difference-in-differences identification strategy and two changes to the national maternity leave policy, I distinguish between the effects of expanding access to wage replacement benefits and the additional effects of providing job protection benefits. Access to paid maternity leave increases the probability of returning to work after childbirth in the short run, but has no effect on long-run employment. Expanding the amount of job protection available to new mothers results in substantial increases in maternal employment rates and job tenure more than five years later. However, job protected leave expansions...
March 2016Family Inequality: Diverging Patterns in Marriage, Cohabitation, and Childbearing
with Shelly Lundberg, Robert A. Pollak: w22078
The last 60 years have seen the emergence of a dramatic socioeconomic gradient in marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and childbearing. The divide is between college graduates and others: those without four-year degrees have family patterns and trajectories very similar to those of high school graduates. We document these trends and show that, compared with college graduates, less-educated women are more likely to enter into cohabiting partnerships early and bear children while cohabiting, are less likely to transition quickly into marriage, and have much higher divorce rates. There are two broad sets of explanations for these differences. Conventional explanations focus on the diminished economic prospects of less-educated men. We propose an alternative explanation focusing on education...

Published: Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Jenna Stearns, 2016. "Family Inequality: Diverging Patterns in Marriage, Cohabitation, and Childbearing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol 30(2), pages 79-102. citation courtesy of

November 2015Paid Family Leave, Fathers’ Leave-Taking, and Leave-Sharing in Dual-Earner Households
with Ann Bartel, Maya Rossin-Slater, Christopher Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel: w21747
This paper provides quasi-experimental evidence on the impact of paid leave legislation on fathers’ leave-taking, as well as on the division of leave between mothers and fathers in dual-earner households. Using difference-in-difference and difference-in-difference-in-difference designs, we study California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL) program, which is the first source of government-provided paid parental leave available to fathers in the United States. Our results show that fathers in California are 0.9 percentage points—or 46 percent relative to the pre-treatment mean—more likely to take leave in the first year of their children’s lives when CA-PFL is available. We also examine how parents allocate leave in households where both parents work. We find that CA-PFL increases father-only lea...

Published: Ann P. Bartel & Maya Rossin-Slater & Christopher J. Ruhm & Jenna Stearns & Jane Waldfogel, 2018. "Paid Family Leave, Fathers’ Leave-Taking, and Leave-Sharing in Dual-Earner Households," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, vol 37(1), pages 10-37.

NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us