parental leave and child health across oecd countries pdf

Parental Leave And Child Health Across Oecd Countries Pdf

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Parental leave , or family leave , is an employee benefit available in almost all countries. Often, the minimum benefits and eligibility requirements are stipulated by law. Unpaid parental or family leave is provided when an employer is required to hold an employee's job while that employee is taking leave.

Paid family leave and children health outcomes in OECD countries

Parental leave , or family leave , is an employee benefit available in almost all countries. Often, the minimum benefits and eligibility requirements are stipulated by law. Unpaid parental or family leave is provided when an employer is required to hold an employee's job while that employee is taking leave. Paid parental or family leave provides paid time off work to care for or make arrangements for the welfare of a child or dependent family member.

In , the International Labour Organization reviewed parental leave policies in countries and territories, and found that all countries except Papua New Guinea have laws mandating some form of parental leave. Research has linked paid parental leave to better health outcomes for children, [7] as well as mothers. Jeremiah Carter and Martha Nussbaum have developed a political model known as the capabilities approach , where basic freedoms and opportunities are included in economic assessments of a country's well-being, in addition to GDP.

In Nussbaum's model, states should provide the resources and freedoms to ensure people have the opportunity to achieve a minimum threshold of each central capability. Universal, paid parental leave is an example resource states can provide so people have the option of starting a family while also working; for instance, under capacity 10 control of one's environment , the state has a responsibility to ensure all people have "the right to seek employment on an equal basis with others.

Paid parental leave incentivizes labor market attachment for women both before and after birth, affecting GDP and national productivity, as the workforce is larger. Paid parental leave incentivizes childbirth, which affects the future workforce. It is thus argued that paid parental leave, in contrast to unpaid parental leave, is harmful to children's welfare because in countries with an aging workforce or countries with sub-replacement fertility , children are born not because the parents want the child and can meet the child's needs but because children are expected to support their parents.

Some see children as responsible for supporting all those in older generations in the society not just the child's specific parents ; their earnings are expected not to be saved for the children's own old age, but to be spent on the earlier generations' demand for social security and pensions for which there was inadequate savings. The neoclassical model of labor markets predicts that, if the cost of hiring women of child-bearing years is anticipated to increase either because the employer is mandated to pay for maternity leave or because she will be absent from work on public leave , then the "demand" for women in the labor market will decrease.

While gender discrimination is illegal, without some kind of remedy the neoclassical model would predict "statistical discrimination" against hiring women of child-bearing years.

If women take long parental leaves, the neoclassical model would predict that their lifetime earnings and opportunities for promotion will be less than their male or childfree counterparts—the " motherhood penalty ".

The study found that, while in the "family-friendly" sector there was basically no wage loss related to taking parental leave, women did have consistent earnings loss in the "non-family-friendly" private sector for one year's leave.

Universal, paid parental leave can be privately funded i. Concerns about private funding include the statistical discrimination described above as well as the costs to smaller businesses. The father's quota is a policy implemented by some countries or companies that reserves a part of the parental leave or other types of family leave for the father. If the father does not take this reserved part of leave, the family loses that leave period—that is, it cannot be transferred to the mother.

Some critics question whether such policies are evidence-based and express concern that they are "a social experiment, the effects of which are unknown".

Critics argue that the quota harms mothers, depriving them of much needed leave, trivializes biological realities, and is an example of discrimination against mothers. In the European Union, non-transferable parental leave remains a controversial issue. For more, see Paternity leave and its effects. Comparison between countries in term of employee benefits to leave for parents are often attempted, but these are very difficult to make because of the complexity of types of leave available and because terms such as maternity leave, paternity leave, pre-natal leave, post-natal leave, parental leave, family leave and home-care leave, have different meanings in different jurisdictions.

Such terms may often be used incorrectly. Comparing the length of maternity leave which is common in international rankings may say very little about the situation of a family in a specific country.

A country for example may have a long maternity leave but a short or non-existent parental or family leave, or vice versa. Sometimes there is a distortion in how maternity leave is reported and delimitated from other types of leave, especially in jurisdictions where there is no clear legal term of "maternity leave", and such term is used informally to denote either the minimum or the maximum period of parental leave reserved by quota to the mother.

Sweden is sometimes listed in international statistics as having days' "maternity leave", [37] although these days include parental leave. The Maternity Protection Convention, requires at least 14 weeks of maternity leave.

In the European Union , the Pregnant Workers Directive requires at least 14 weeks of maternity leave; while the Work—Life Balance Directive requires at least 10 days of paternity leave, as well as at least 4 months of parental leave, with 2 months being non-transferable. Typically, the effects of parental leave are improvements in prenatal and postnatal care, including a decrease in infant mortality.

Leave legislation can also impact fertility rates. A study in Germany found that wages decreased by 18 percent for every year an employee spends on parental leave. Parental leave can lead to greater job security.

Some studies show that if a parent is gone for more than a year after the birth of a child, it decreases the possibility that he or she will return. It does not appear that parental leave policies have had a significant effect on the gender wage gap, which has remained relatively steady since the late s, despite increasing adoption of parental leave policies.

In the U. As a result, some studies show that the FMLA has had a limited impact on how much leave new parents take. There is some evidence that legislation for parental leave raises the likelihood of women returning to their previous jobs as opposed to finding a new job. Additionally, it appears that parental leave policies do allow women to stay home longer before returning to work as the probability of returning to an old job falls in the second month after childbirth before dramatically rising in the third month.

Although this legislation thus appears to have minimal effect on women choosing to take leave, it does appear to increase the time women take in leave. Maternity leave legislation could pose benefits or harm to employers.

The main potential drawback of mandated leave is its potential to disrupt productive activities by raising rates of employee absenteeism. With mandated leave for a certain period of time and facing prolonged absence of the mothers in the workplace, firms will be faced with two options: hire a temp which could involve training costs or function with a missing employee. Alternatively, these policies could be positive for employers who previously did not offer leave because they were worried about attracting employees who were disproportionately likely to use maternity leave.

Thus, there is potential for these policies to correct market failures. In countries with a high demand for labor, including many present-day countries with aging populations, a smaller labor supply is unfavorable.

Something important to note for all the research cited above is that the results typically depend on how leave coverage is defined, and whether the policies are for unpaid or paid leave. Policies guaranteeing paid leave are considered by some to be dramatically more effective than unpaid-leave policies.

For women individually, long breaks in employment, as would come from parental leave, negatively affects their careers. Longer gaps are associated with reduced lifetime earnings and lower pension disbursements as well as worsened career prospects and reduced earnings.

Due to these drawbacks, some countries, notably Norway, have expanded family policy initiatives to increase the father's quota and expand childcare in an effort to work towards greater gender equality. According to a study, the expansion of government-funded maternity leave in Norway from 18 to 35 weeks led mothers to spend more time at home without a reduction in family income.

The term 'paternity leave' refers to the leave that is exclusively granted to the fathers to enable them in spending time with their new-born child. Although parental leave is increasingly granted to fathers, mothers continue to take the majority of guaranteed parental leave. Among the earliest countries to actively push for increased usage of paternity leave are the Nordic welfare states, starting with Sweden making parental leave gender neutral in and soon followed by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

These countries lack a unified concept of paternity leave, each imposing different conditions, ratios and timescales, but are regarded as among the most generous in the world. Partly in an initiative to combat the "motherhood penalty", Norway in initiated a policy change to incentivize paternal leave , the so-called " father's quota ", and Sweden followed suit in This means a certain number of parental leave-days can only be used by the father, and are otherwise lost.

In countries in which leave entitlements include a father's quota, there has been a pronounced impact, with the quota being credited for increasing paternal involvement and challenging gender roles within the family, promoting a more equal division of labor. But it can be understood to have an effect on division of household labor by gender when both parents can take time to care for a new baby. Another impact from fathers taking more leave is that in Norway it has been shown to have the potential to either decrease or increase the time women take, depending on whether the mother's and father's childcare are seen as substitutes or complements.

If substitute goods, mothers are able to return to work sooner as fathers take some of the childcare responsibility. Research has suggested a class element is at play: middle class fathers consider themselves a suitable alternative to the mother as primary caregiver, while working-class men may see themselves more as supporters of their partner during her leave. Consequently, middle class fathers may be more likely to use their allotment of leave right after the mother returns to work, while working class fathers may opt to take their leave during the mother's leave.

Fathers tend to use less parental leave than mothers in the United States as well as in other countries where paid leave is available, [44] [54] and this difference may have factors other than the financial constraints which impact both parents.

Bygren and Duvander, [54] looking at the use of parental leave by fathers in Sweden, concluded that fathers' workplace characteristics including the size of the workplace, whether there were more men or women in the workplace, and whether the workplace was part of the private or public sector influenced the length of parental leave for fathers, as did the presence of other men who had taken parental leave at an earlier point in time.

Before the reform, women had a mandatory two-month parental leave, and could take up to three years' unpaid parental leave with their job guaranteed, though most women only took the two months. The authors found positive effects on employment: compared to women in otherwise similar circumstances before the reform, first-time mothers who took the paid leave after the reform were more likely to be employed after their leave, and less likely to stay out of the labor force.

The authors point to similar results of full-time, short paid parental leave observed in Canada in by Baker and Milligan, [56] and in Germany in by Kluve and Tamm.

Rasmussen analyzed a similar natural experiment in Denmark with a policy change in where parental leave increased from 14 to 20 weeks. There was no difference on children's long-term educational outcomes before and after the policy change.

According to a study, parental leave leads to better health outcomes for children. Paid leave, particularly when available prior to childbirth, had a significant effect on birth weight. The frequency of low birth rate decreases under these policies, which likely contributes to the decrease in infant mortality rates as low birth weight is strongly correlated with infant death.

However, careful analysis reveals that increased birth weight is not the sole reason for the decreased mortality rate. A study found that the introduction of paid maternity leave in Norway substantially improved maternal health outcomes, in particular for first-time and low-income mothers.

According to a study, the expansion of government-funded maternity leave in Norway from 18 to 35 weeks had little effect on children's schooling. Children whose mothers worked in the first 9 months were found to be less ready for school at the age of 3 years. The effects of mothers' employment appeared to be the most detrimental when employment started between the sixth and ninth month of life.

Negative impacts in terms of school-readiness were most pronounced when the mother worked at least 30 hours per week. These findings were complicated by many factors, including race, poverty, and how sensitive the mother was considered.

The effects were also greater in boys, which is explained by the fact that many analysts consider boys more vulnerable to stress in early life. The same Harvard report also linked paid parental leave and a child's psychological health. It found that parents with paid parental leave had closer bonds with their children.

Families do take into account relative income levels of each parent when planning for parental leave; the partner earning a lower wage may be more likely to take parental leave.

To counteract these pressures and encourage paternity leave, some countries have experimented with making paternity leave mandatory or otherwise incentivizing it.

There are also observable improvements in the mental health of mothers when they are able to return to work later. While the probability of experiencing postpartum depression had no significant statistical change, longer leave leave over 10 weeks was associated with decreased severity of depression and decreased number of experienced symptoms.

Studies looking for a connection between paid parental leave have shown conflicting results. Some research looked at women 25—34 years old, who are more likely to be affected by leave legislation. Fertility rates peaked for those between 25—29 and 30—34 across European countries. A study of a law in Sweden that allowed fathers to take up to 30 days of paid family leave in the first year after the birth of the child at the same time as the mother was on leave led to substantial improvements in the mental and physical health of mothers.

The economic consequences of parental leave policies are subject to controversy. According to a study, the expansion of government-funded maternity leave in Norway from 18 to 35 weeks had net costs that amounted to 0.

Parental leave policies have an impact on gender equality as it relates to parenting and are therefore used by various countries as a tool to promote gender equality.

Parental leave

Metrics details. The Sustainable development goals SDGs have the potential to have a significant impact on maternal and child health through their commitments both to directly addressing health services and to improving factors that form the foundation of social determinants of health. One particular policy that could advance a range of SDGs and importantly improve maternal and infant health is paid parental leave. In addition, this article presents global data on the prevalence of policies in all UN Member States. A review of the literature finds that paid parental leave may support improvements across a range of SDG outcomes relevant to maternal and child health. Across national income levels, paid leave has been associated with lower infant mortality and higher rates of immunizations. However, factors including the duration of leave, the wage replacement rate, and whether leave is made available to both parents importantly shape the impacts of paid leave policies.

Paid parental leave and family wellbeing in the sustainable development era

During the past four decades, most OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries have adopted or expanded paid family leave, which offers leave to workers following the birth or adoption of a child as well as care for ill family members. This is a limitation, since most of the recent expansion in paid family leave in OECD countries has been to expand leave benefits to fathers. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of paid family leave on the wellbeing of children, extending what we know about the effects of maternity leave and establishing new evidence on paternity leave.

Paid Leave in the States: A Critical Support for Low-wage Workers and Their Families

To understand the relationship between parental leave and child health better, this study examines the aggregate effects of parental leave policies on child health outcomes using data from 18 OECD countries 1 from — This study explores the effects of other social policies related to families and young children, such as public expenditures on family cash benefits, family allowances, and family services per child, on child health outcomes. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account.

Download PDF. When these families experience a major life event, such as having a baby or taking care of a family member with a serious illness, their already fragile financial situation can be further jeopardized. With recent social and demographic shifts — including the increased participation of women in the labor force and the aging of the population — balancing work obligations with family responsibilities has become more and more challenging for all families.

To understand the relationship between parental leave and child health better, this study examines the aggregate effects of parental leave.

Are the world's richest countries family friendly?

American families are changing. More children live with two working parents or a single working parent. At the other end of the life cycle, adults are living longer and working longer. These trends have increased the need for paid family and medical leave, which allows workers to fulfill important caregiving responsibilities without having to give up their paid employment. To address this need, seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted paid family and medical leave insurance laws, and many other states and the federal government have these programs on their legislative agendas.

This topic aims to provide a better understanding of the various issues surrounding parental leave policies and their effects on families and child development. Maternity and parental leave policies date back more than years and are now established policy instruments in over nations. Until recently, much of the research in this area has focussed primarily on use patterns and the economic consequences of leave policies. Affordable, high-quality care for young children and flexible workplace practices are critical contextual factors.

The composition of the American workforce and family have changed significantly over the last few decades. Single motherhood and dual-earner households have been trending upward, and the majority of mothers with young children are now in the labor force. Some fear that this represents a shift toward an increasingly untenable work-life balance for parents who must choose between their livelihoods and being physically present for their kids or family members in need.

Maternity leave reduces neonatal and infant mortality rates in high-income countries. However, the impact of maternity leave on infant health has not been rigorously evaluated in low- and middle-income countries LMICs. In this study, we utilized a difference-in-differences approach to evaluate whether paid maternity leave policies affect infant mortality in LMICs. We used birth history data collected via the Demographic and Health Surveys to assemble a panel of approximately , live births in 20 countries from to ; these observational data were merged with longitudinal information on the duration of paid maternity leave provided by each country. Fixed effects for country and year were included to control for, respectively, unobserved time-invariant confounders that varied across countries and temporal trends in mortality that were shared across countries.

Family-friendly policies matter because they help children to get a better start in life and help parents to find the right balance between their commitments at work and at home. This report focuses on two key policies: childcare leave for parents and early childhood education and care for preschool children. It reviews these policies in the 41 high- and middle-income countries that are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD or the European Union EU , using the most recent comparable data on hand. The analysis includes national breastfeeding rates and policies as well as the quality of preschool education, where comparable indicators are available. It excludes other elements of family policy, such as child benefits or birth grants, to limit the scope of the report to issues that concern the work—family balance.

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