The Effect of Prenatal Maternity Leave on Short and Long-term Child Outcomes
Sprache des Titels:
Maternity leave policies are designed to safeguard the health of pregnant workers and their unborn children. We evaluate a maternity leave extension in Austria which increased mandatory prenatal leave from 6 to 8 weeks. We exploit that the assignment to the extended leave was determined by a cutoff date. We find no evidence for significant effects of this extension on children's health at birth or long-term health and labor market outcomes. Subsequent maternal health and fertility are also unaffected. We conclude that employment during the 33rd and 34th week of gestation is not harmful for expecting mothers (without major problems in pregnancy) and their unborn children.
Sprache der Kurzfassung:
Maternity leave policies are presumed to be essential to ensure the health of pregnant workers
and their unborn children. However, little is known about the optimal duration of prenatal
maternity leave and existing policies are not evidence-based. We evaluate a substantial
maternity leave extension in Austria, which increased mandatory leave prior to birth from
six to eight weeks. Our estimation strategy exploits that the eligibility for the extended
leave was determined by a cutoff due date. As an additional source of exogenous variation,
we use information on non-working mothers, who are not eligible for maternity leave.
Across estimations, we consistently find no evidence for significant effects of this extension
on children?s health at birth, subsequent maternal health and fertility, and longterm human
capital outcomes of children. Our finding is confirmed by a supplementary cross-country