Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 779–825 | Cite as

Parental leave policies, intra-household time allocations and children’s human capital

  • Raquel Bernal
  • Anna FrutteroEmail author


This paper uses a general equilibrium model of marriage and divorce to assess how public policies on parental leave and leave benefits affect intra-household decision making, family structure, intergenerational mobility, and the distribution of income. The benchmark economy is calibrated to US data to replicate some characteristics relevant to the interaction between the marriage and labor markets. The effects of unpaid leave, paid leave benefits, and mandated leave on human capital investment, distribution of income, and welfare are then analyzed.


Parental leave Human capital investment Income distribution 

JEL codes

J1 J2 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aiyagari SR, Greenwood J, Guner N (2000) On the state of the union. J. Polit Econ 108(2):213–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baum C (2003) Does early maternal employment harm child development? An analysis of the potential benefits of leave taking. J Labor Econ 21(2):409–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker G, Tomes N (1986) Human capital and the rise and fall of families. J Labor Econ 4(3):S1–S39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berger LM, Hill J, Waldfogel J (2005) Maternity leave, early maternal employment and child heath and development in the US. Econ J 115(501):F29–F47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernal R (2007) The Effect of Maternal Employment and Child Care on Children’s Cognitive Development. Northwestern University, January 2007Google Scholar
  6. Bernal R, Keane M (2006) Child care choices and children’s cognitive achievement: the case of single mothers. IPR working paper, Northwestern University, WP-06-09.Google Scholar
  7. Brown M, Flinn C (2006) Investment in child quality over marital states. Working paper, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin and Department of Economics, New York University, January 2004Google Scholar
  8. Cutler D, Katz L (1992) Rising inequality? Changes in the distribution of income and consumption in the 1980s. Am Econ Rev 82(2):546–551Google Scholar
  9. Erosa A, Fuster L, Restuccia D (2005) A general equilibrium analysis of parental leave policies. Working paper 05-08, Federal Reserve Bank of RichmondGoogle Scholar
  10. Friedberg L (1998) Did unilateral divorce raise divorce rates? Evidence from panel data. Am Econ Rev 88 (3):608–627Google Scholar
  11. Galtry J (2000) Policies and practices to support breastfeeding in the workplace. Paper prepared and presented at the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Technical Consultation on Infant and Young Child Feeding, Geneva. March 13–17Google Scholar
  12. Glass J, Riley L (1998) Family responsive policies and employee retention following childbirth. Soc Forces 76(4):1401–1435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Greenwood J, Guner N, Knowles J (2003) More on marriage, fertility, and the distribution of income. Int Econ Rev 44(3):827–862CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gruber J (2004) Is making divorce easier bad for children? The long run implications of unilateral divorce. J Labor Econ 22:799–833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heymann J, Earle A, Simmons S, Breslow SM, Kuehnhoff A (2004) The work, family, and equity index: where does the United States stand globally? Harvard School of Public Health Report #59518Google Scholar
  16. Hofferth, SL (1996) Effects of public and private policies on working after childbirth. Work and Occup 23(4):378–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. International Labor Organization (1999) Maternity protection at work. International Labour Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  18. Loury GC (1981) Intergenerational transfers and the distribution of earnings. Econometrica 49(4):843–867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mortensen DT (1988) Matching: finding a partner for life or otherwise. Am J Soc 94:S215–S240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. OECD (2002) Babies and bosses—reconciling work and family life, vol 1. OECD Publishing, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  21. OECD (2003) Babies and bosses. Reconciling work and family life, vol 2. OECD Publishing, AustriaGoogle Scholar
  22. OECD (2004) Babies and bosses—reconciling work and family life, vol 3. OECD Publishing, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  23. O’Connell M (1990) Maternity leave arrangements: 1961–85. In: Work and family patterns of american women. Current Population Reports, Series P23, No.165. US Census Bureau, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  24. Phipps S, Burton P, Lethbridge L (1998) In and out of the labour market: long term income consequences of interruptions in paid work. Can J Econ 34(2):411–429Google Scholar
  25. Ruhm C (2000) Parental leave and child health. J Health Econ 19(6):931–960CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Stokey N (1998) Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves: the economics of social mobility. In: Jacobs DP, Kalai E, Kamien MI (eds) Frontiers of research in economic theory: the Nancy L. Shwartz memorial lectures, 1983–1997, Cambridge Univ. Press, pp 210–241Google Scholar
  27. Tauchen G (1986) Finite state Markov-chain approximation to univariate and vector autoregressions. Econ Lett 20:177–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Waldfogel J (1997) Working mothers then and now: a cross-cohort analysis of the effects of maternity leave on women’s pay. In: Francine D. Blau FD, Ehrenberg RG (eds) Gender and family issues in the workplace. Russell Sage Foundation, New York 92–126Google Scholar
  29. Waldfogel J (1998) The family gap for young women in the United States and Britain: can maternity leave make a difference? J Labor Econ 16(3):505–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Northwestern University and Institute for Policy ResearchEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.The World BankWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations