The Effects of Parental Leave on Child Health and Postnatal Care: Evidence from Australia
Embargoed until: 2019-03-01
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One of the arguments that is advanced in support of paid maternity leave policies is that the mother’s time away from work, around childbirth, is expected to improve child health and development. However the research evidence on these links is scarce and, until recently, little was known about the link, if any, between child health and parental leave in particular. Using an extended random effects estimator to control for selection bias and unobserved heterogeneity, we employ micro-level data from the Parental Leave in Australia Survey, which is a nested survey of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, to examine the effects of parental leave on measures of child health and the provision of health inputs to the child. We found that parental leave around childbirth was significantly associated with prolonged breastfeeding, up-to-date immunisation and other positive effects on some chronic health conditions such as asthma, bronchiolitis. For example, children of mothers who took an additional week of paid maternity leave have a lower probability of having asthma and bronchiolitis (1.1 and 0.5 percentage points less likely, respectively). They are also slightly more likely to be breastfed until one month and 6 months of age (2.1 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively).
Economic Analysis and Policy
© 2016 Economic Society of Australia, Queensland. Published by Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/) which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, providing that the work is properly cited.
Panel Data Analysis