Parental Leave and Child Health

52 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2000  

Christopher J. Ruhm

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: May 1998

Abstract

This study investigates whether rights to paid parental leave improve pediatric health, as measured by birth weights and infant or child mortality. Aggregate data are used for nine European countries over the 1969 through 1994 period. Year and country fixed-effects are held constant and most specifications include additional covariates or control for country-specific time trends. Much of the analysis incorporates a natural experiments comparing changes in pediatric outcomes to those of senior citizens, whose health is not expected to be affected by parental leave. More generous leave rights are found to reduce deaths of infants and young children. The magnitudes of the estimated effects are substantial, especially for those outcomes where a causal effect of parental leave is most plausible. In particular, there is a much stronger negative relationship between leave durations and post-neonatal mortality or fatalities between the first and fifth birthday than for perinatal mortality, neonatal deaths, or the incidence of low birth weight. The evidence further suggests that parental leave may be a cost-effective method of bettering child health.

Suggested Citation

Ruhm, Christopher J., Parental Leave and Child Health (May 1998). NBER Working Paper No. w6554. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226287

Christopher J. Ruhm (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy ( email )

235 McCormick Rd.
P.O. Box 400893
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4893
United States
434-924-7581 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://batten.virginia.edu/cruhm.html

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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