Paid Family Leave and Infant Health: Evidence from State Programs
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Using Vital Statistics Linked Births/Infant Death Certificate data from 2007-2012, the author applies two approaches to measure the impact of family leave policies on infant health. One approach uses across-state variation to identify the relative change in treatment states’ infant mortality rates around the time of their PFL policy implementation, relative to comparable states. The second approach exploits variation in the employment, education, and income levels at the county level. This analysis adds another layer of variation under the presumption that employees residing in counties with lower levels of education and income are less likely to have access to paid leave through their employer, less likely to afford to take unpaid time off following the birth of a child, and thus more likely to “take up” and benefit from the PFL program, as in the case of California (Rossin-Slater et al. 2013). Residents in these counties should anticipate a higher impact of the policy than those with alternatives to the state-provided PFL program.
Preliminary findings suggest state-level paid parental leave policies decrease infant mortality rates. The effects are stronger in counties with lower levels of education. Causes of infant death and age at death will be investigated in further detail. The results of this study have important implications for the increasing dialogue surrounding a federal paid family leave program.