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June 5, 2019

Cluster-Seminar Public Finances and Living Conditions

Paid Family Leave and Fertility: The Case of California


June 5, 2019
12:30 - 13:30


Anna J. Schwartz Room
Room 5.2.010
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Pamela A. Meyerhofer (Cornell University)
Current research on maternal and parental leave focuses on leave take-up and employment outcomes, finding that short leaves have beneficial labor market outcomes. As the US faces below replacement fertility and an aging population, we need to consider potential unintended fertility consequences of these policies. Generous European and Australian leave policies have increased fertility and fertility intentions. The unpaid Family Medical Leave Act in the US also increased fertility. Yet, we do not know the effect of short, modestly paid leaves on fertility, especially in the US policy context. Using Synthetic Control Method, I estimate the impact of the introduction of a modest paid family leave policy, California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL), on several fertility outcomes. Preliminary results find no impact of CA-PFL on aggregate birthrates, which is expected given the modest benefits of this policy. As this policy was targeted towards disadvantaged populations who do not have access to paid family leave and/or cannot afford unpaid leave, the next step is to explore heterogenous effects by race, income, and education. I will also test for changes along the intensive margin such as age at birth and birth timing/spacing. While preliminary findings do not show increasing fertility as previous research suggested, CA-PFL also does not appear to dampen fertility. This means that women can reap the labor market and gender equity benefits of paid family leave found in previous research without unintended fertility consequences.

Topics: Family , Gender