NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Paid Family Leave and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

Jessica E. Pac, Ann P. Bartel, Christopher J. Ruhm, Jane Waldfogel

NBER Working Paper No. 25784
Issued in April 2019
NBER Program(s):The Program on Children, The Health Care Program, The Health Economics Program, The Labor Studies Program, The Public Economics Program

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25784

 
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