The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons from Europe

Christopher J. Ruhm

NBER Working Paper No. 5688
Issued in July 1996
NBER Program(s):Health Care, Labor Studies, Public Economics

This study investigates the economic consequences of parental leave mandates using data for 16 European countries over the 1969 through 1988 period. Since women use virtually all of the family leave in most nations, men constitute a reasonable comparison group and the natural experiment in most of the analysis involves examining how changes in leave entitlements affect the gap between female and male labor market outcomes. The employment-to-populations ratios of women in their prime childbearing years are also compared to those of older females, as a function of changes in leave regulations. Parental leave mandates are associated with increases in total employment but appear to have a more modest effect on weekly work hours and there is some evidence that women pay for entitlements to extended leave by receiving lower relative wages. The econometric estimates are sensitive to the inclusion of controls for time-varying country effects and sex-specific within-country time-trends.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5688

Published: Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 108, no. 1 (February 1998): 285-317. Published as "The Economic Consequences of Labor Mobility", Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 41, no. 1 (1987): 30-42. citation courtesy of

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