The Effect of Prenatal Maternity Leave on Short and Long-Term Child Outcomes

44 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018

See all articles by Alexander Ahammer

Alexander Ahammer

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics

Martin Halla

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Nicole E. Schneeweis

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics

Abstract

Maternity leave policies are presumed to be essential to ensure the health of pregnant workers and their unborn children. However, little is known about the optimal duration of prenatal maternity leave and existing policies are not evidence-based. We evaluate a substantial maternity leave extension in Austria, which increased mandatory leave prior to birth from six to eight weeks. Our estimation strategy exploits that the eligibility for the extended leave was determined by a cutoff due date. As an additional source of exogenous variation, we use information on non-working mothers, who are not eligible for maternity leave. Across estimations, we consistently find no evidence for significant effects of this extension on children's health at birth, subsequent maternal health and fertility, and longterm human capital outcomes of children. Our finding is confirmed by a supplementary cross-country panel analysis.

Keywords: maternity leave, infant health, birth outcomes, birth weight, fertility

JEL Classification: J13, I18, J28, I13, J83, J88

Suggested Citation

Ahammer, Alexander and Halla, Martin and Schneeweis, Nicole E., The Effect of Prenatal Maternity Leave on Short and Long-Term Child Outcomes. IZA Discussion Paper No. 11394. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3153358

Alexander Ahammer (Contact Author)

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics ( email )

Altenbergerstrasse 69
A-4040 Linz, 4040
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.jku.at/ahammer/

Martin Halla

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics ( email )

Altenbergerstrasse 69
A-4040 Linz, 4040
Austria

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Nicole E. Schneeweis

Johannes Kepler University Linz - Department of Economics ( email )

Altenbergerstrasse 69
A-4040 Linz, 4040
Austria

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