Does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Increase Fertility Behavior?
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The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), implemented in August 1993, grants job-protected leave to any employee satisfying the eligibility criteria. One of the provisions of the FMLA is to allow women to stay at home for a maximum period of 12 weeks to give care to the newborn. The effect of this legislation on the fertility response of eligible women has received little attention by researchers. This study analyzes whether the FMLA has influenced birth outcomes in the U.S. Specifically, I evaluate the effect of the FMLA by comparing the changes in the birth hazard profiles of women who became eligible for FMLA benefits such as maternity leave, to the changes in the control group who were not eligible for such leave. Using a discrete-time hazard model, results from the difference-in-differences estimation indicate that eligible women increase the probability of having a first and second birth by about 1.5 and 0.6 % per annum, respectively. Compared to other women, eligible women are giving birth to the first child a year earlier and about 8.5 months earlier for the second child.
KeywordsFamily and medical leave act FMLA Fertility Births Hazard models Maternity leave Difference-in-differences
JEL classificationI18 J00 J13 J18
I thank Naci Mocan, Patricia Anderson, Lucie Schmidt and the seminar participants of the 2010 Southern Economic Association Conference and the Louisiana State University Economics Department Brown-bag seminar series for helpful discussions and suggestions. Two anonymous referees provided helpful comments.
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