Paid Leave in the US
(Poverty and Income Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Families in the United States face myriad care needs spanning the life cycle, from child care to own illness to caring for elderly relatives, while most working families no longer have a full time caregiver. The lack of federal paid leave policies means taking time off work to address these care needs can imperil economic and financial well being and dramatically increase income volatility. In the absence of federal action, several states have now passed paid family and medical leave, resulting in a varied policy environment. Most research has focused on parental leave, and there is a growing body of evidence of positive impacts on health and employment stability for mothers and the wellbeing of children. Currently, little is understood about the impact of such social insurance programs on other forms of caregiving covered by these programs: elder care and (own) medical leave. The four papers in this panel begin to fill this gap. The first two papers examine the availability and use of social insurance for the labor market outcomes of worker caring for elderly relatives, while the next two papers explore the labor market effects of sick leave mandates.
The first paper examines the impact of the 2004 Paid Family Leave legislation in California on the employment outcomes of potential elder caregivers. Using the ACS and ATUS, the authors demonstrate that workers age 45-64, those most likely to be supplying eldercare to older parents, have higher labor force participation in California following the passage of the law. The second paper examines the effect of Unemployment Insurance on caregiving behavior. While a fundamentally different type of program from paid family leave, UI nevertheless provides insight into the the effect that wage replacement (as distinct from job protection) has on the outcomes of caregivers and their families. This paper uses state level changes in weekly benefit amount and duration between 1991 at 2010 and panel data that capture both caregiving and employment outcomes.
The third paper conducts a national-level study of paid sick leave mandates, comparing workers in states and cities which have passed sick leave legislation to those who have not using the National Compensation Survey. It shows that sick leave mandates increase the likelihood of workers taking such leave and calculate the effect on employers. The final paper examines the effect of Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, passed in 2012, on earnings and employment trajectories using detailed administrative data from Washington State’s Unemployment Insurance Program. It finds that the law increased employment duration and decreased the likelihood of job separation, without affecting hours or earnings, suggesting that paid leave can play a role in reducing earnings volatility for workers.
By focusing on understudied dimensions of paid leave, this panel broadens our understanding of the impact of these social insurance programs on workers and families. The focus on both national estimates and analysis of individual state laws contributes rich evidence at a time when many states and cities are considering passing similar legislation.