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Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a True Natural Experiment


Lalive, Rafael; Zweimüller, Josef (2005). Does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return-to-Work? Evidence from a True Natural Experiment. Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics No. 242, University of Zurich.

Abstract

"We study the causal effects of changes in parental leave provisions on fertility and return-to-work behavior. We exploit a policy change that took place in 1990 in Austria which extended the maximum duration of parental leave from the child’s first to the child’s second birthday. As parental leave benefits can be automatically renewed when a new mother is still on leave from a previous child, this created a strong incentive to ”bunch” the time of work in case of multiple planned children and/or to increase fertility. We study the quantitative effect of this incentive using an empirical strategy which resembles a true experimental set-up very closely. In particular, assignment to treatment is random and treated and controls face (almost) identical environmental conditions. We find that treated mothers have a 4.9 percentage points (or 15 percent) higher probability to get an additional child within the following three years; and a 3.9 percentage points higher probability in the following ten years. Thisnsuggests that not only the timing but also the number of children were affected by the policy change. We also find that parental leave rules have a strong effect on mothers’ return-to-work behavior. Pernadditional months of maximum parental leave duration, mothers’ time of work is reduced by 0.4 to 0.5 months. The effects of a subsequent policy change in 1996 when maximum parental leave duration was reduced from the child’s second birthday to the date when the child became 18 months old brought about no change in fertility behavior, but a labor supply effect that is comparable in magnitude to thenone generated by the 1990 policy change. This can be rationalized by the incentives created throughnautomatic benefit renewal."

Abstract

"We study the causal effects of changes in parental leave provisions on fertility and return-to-work behavior. We exploit a policy change that took place in 1990 in Austria which extended the maximum duration of parental leave from the child’s first to the child’s second birthday. As parental leave benefits can be automatically renewed when a new mother is still on leave from a previous child, this created a strong incentive to ”bunch” the time of work in case of multiple planned children and/or to increase fertility. We study the quantitative effect of this incentive using an empirical strategy which resembles a true experimental set-up very closely. In particular, assignment to treatment is random and treated and controls face (almost) identical environmental conditions. We find that treated mothers have a 4.9 percentage points (or 15 percent) higher probability to get an additional child within the following three years; and a 3.9 percentage points higher probability in the following ten years. Thisnsuggests that not only the timing but also the number of children were affected by the policy change. We also find that parental leave rules have a strong effect on mothers’ return-to-work behavior. Pernadditional months of maximum parental leave duration, mothers’ time of work is reduced by 0.4 to 0.5 months. The effects of a subsequent policy change in 1996 when maximum parental leave duration was reduced from the child’s second birthday to the date when the child became 18 months old brought about no change in fertility behavior, but a labor supply effect that is comparable in magnitude to thenone generated by the 1990 policy change. This can be rationalized by the incentives created throughnautomatic benefit renewal."

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:May 2005
Deposited On:29 Nov 2011 22:32
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 20:06
Series Name:Working paper series / Institute for Empirical Research in Economics
ISSN:1424-0459
OA Status:Green
Official URL:http://www.econ.uzh.ch/wp.html

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