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Parental Leave Policy and Long-run Earnings of Mothers

Referierte Aufsätze Web of Science

Corinna Frodermann, Katharina Wrohlich, Aline Zucco

In: Labour Economics 80 (2023), 102296, 13 S.


Paid parental leave schemes have been shown to increase women’s employment rates but to decrease their wages in case of extended leave duration. In view of these potential trade-offs, many countries are discussing the optimal design of parental leave policies. We analyze the impact of a major parental leave reform on mothers’ long-term earnings. The 2007 German parental leave reform replaced a means-tested benefit with a more generous earnings-related benefit that is granted for a shorter period of time. Additionally, a ”daddy quota” of two months was introduced. To identify the causal effect of this policy mix on long-run earnings of mothers, we use a difference-in-differences approach that compares labor market outcomes of mothers who gave birth just before and right after the reform and nets out seasonal effects by including the year before. Using administrative social security data, we confirm previous findings and show that the average duration of employment interruptions increased for mothers with high pre-birth earnings. Nevertheless, we find a positive long-run effect on earnings for mothers in this group. This effect cannot be explained by changes in the selection of working mothers, working hours or changes in employer stability. Descriptive evidence suggests that the stronger involvement of fathers, incentivized by the ”daddy months”, could have facilitated mothers’ re-entry into the labor market and thereby increased earnings. For mothers with low pre-birth earnings, however, we do not find beneficial long-run effects of this parental leave reform.

Katharina Wrohlich

Head in the Gender Economics Department