Maternity Leave and Mothers’ Long-Term Sickness Absence: Evidence From West Germany
- 71 Downloads
Exploiting unique German administrative data, we estimate the association between an expansion in maternity leave duration from two to six months in 1979 and mothers’ postbirth long-term sickness absence over a period of three decades after childbirth. Adopting a difference-in-difference approach, we first assess the reform’s labor market effects and, subsequently, prebirth and postbirth maternal long-term sickness absence, accounting for the potential role of the reform in mothers’ selection into employment. Consistent with previous research, our estimates show that the leave extension caused mothers to significantly delay their return to work within the first year after childbirth. We then provide difference-in-difference estimates for the number and length of spells of long-term sickness absence among returned mothers. Our findings suggest that among those returned, mothers subject to the leave extension exhibit a higher incidence of long-term sickness absence compared with mothers who gave birth before the reform. This also holds true after we control for observable differences in prebirth illness histories. At the same time, we find no pronounced effects on mothers’ medium-run labor market attachment following the short-run delay in return to work, which might rationalize a negative causal health effect. Breaking down the results by mothers’ prebirth health status suggests that the higher incidence of long-term sickness absence among mothers subject to the reform may be explained by the fact that the reform facilitated the reentry of a negative health selection into the labor market.
KeywordsMaternity leave policies Health Administrative data
We would like to thank Hendrik Jürges, Martin Salm, the anonymous referees, and the editor of this journal for their helpful comments and suggestions.
- Chatterji, P., & Markowitz, S. (2012). Family leave after childbirth and the mental health of new mothers. Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics, 15, 61–76.Google Scholar
- Dustmann, C., & Schönberg, U. (2012). Expansions in maternity leave coverage and children’s long-term outcomes. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(3), 190–224.Google Scholar
- Eckl, C. (2015, May 20). So streichen Kassen Langzeitkranken das Krankengeld [How the health insurance cuts the benefits of the long-term sick]. Die Welt. Retrieved from http://www.welt.de/141187095
- Kreyenfeld, M. R., & Mika, T. (2008). Erwerbstätigkeit und Fertilität: Analysen mit der Versicherungskontenstichprobe der deutschen Rentenversicherung [Employment and fertility: Analyses using German Pension Insurance data]. In German Pension Insurance Federation (Ed.), Die Versicherungskontenstichprobe als Scientific Use File: Workshop des Forschungsdatenzentrums der Rentenversicherung (FDZ-RV) am 30. und 31. Oktober 2007 in Würzburg (pp. 71–95). Berlin, Germany: Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund.Google Scholar
- Labbok, M. H. (1999). Health sequelae of breastfeeding for the mother. Clinics in Perinatology, 26, 491–503.Google Scholar
- SVR Gesundheit. (2015). Krankengeld - Entwicklung, Ursachen und Steuerungsmöglichkeiten [Sickness benefits – Developments, causes, and opportunities to intervene]. Bonn/Berlin, Germany: Sachverständigenrat Gesundheit.Google Scholar