Parental Leave and Child Health across OECD Countries

Sakiko Tanaka, Columbia University

This paper examines the effects of parental leave extensions on child health outcomes in 18 OECD countries in 1969-2000. It builds on a comparative paper by Ruhm (2000) but adds data on the United States and Japan as well as more recent data on the 18 countries. Additionally, the paper separately examines job-protected paid leave and other parental leave, which includes unpaid leave and non job-protected leave. The findings indicate that other leave has little effect on child health outcomes, while job-protected paid leave has strong effects. Like Ruhm (2000), the study decomposes infant mortality into four components and finds that parental leave has the strongest effects on post-neonatal mortality. This study also explores the effects of related social policies, such as family cash benefits, family allowances, and family services, and finds that family services and expenditure on maternity and parental leave have significant effects on reducing post-neonatal mortality.

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Presented in Session 12: Parental Leave and Child Outcomes: A Comparative Perspective