Parental Leave Policies And Their Consequences For Inequality

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In order to increase parents' participation in parental leave, in 20006 Quebec reformed its paid leave program to to offer higher benefits and institute a 'daddy-only' quota that reserved 5 weeks for fathers. In this dissertation I investigate the effects of this landmark reform on various dimensions of inequality. In chapter 1, I analyze whether QPIP affected the gender gap in parents' leave participation. Using data on benefit claims, I find that QPIP had an immediate program effect of increasing fathers' leave participation by 53 percentage points and leave duration by 3.1 weeks, with no immediate effect on mothers' leave behavior. I find evidence that the 'daddyonly' quota produces an intra-household fly-paper effect: even though the quota does not change a binding constraint for most families in Quebec, the 'daddy' benefits stick to fathers. This suggests that one of the reasons that daddy quotas are effective is that they produce a labeling effect from the 'daddy-only' label. In chapter 2, I investigate how this exogenous increase in fathers' leave taking under QPIP may have affected household sex-specialization in the long-term. I utilize data from time-diaries, and exploit variation in exposure to QPIP across provinces, time and the age of one's children. I find that QPIP had a large and persistent effect on the division of household labor. In exposed households, fathers experience decreased time in market work and personal income, while mothers experience increased time at the workplace, labor supply, and personal income. The organization of non-market work also changes: Fathers increase time in housework, while mothers move time away from housework and towards childcare instead. Overall, households exposed to QPIP are found to be less sex specialized. Chapter 3 explores whether QPIP reduced inequalities in leave-utilization across socioeconomic strata, and in turn reduced health inequalities. I find that QPIP increased mothers' leave participation, particularly among never-married mothers and low-income mothers, who previously took significantly less leave. On average QPIP increased breastfeeding initiations by 6% and increased the duration of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding, but the program effects favored married, educated, high-income mothers, suggesting increasing health inequalities.

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parental leave; paternity leave; daddy quotas


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Blau,Francine D

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Lovenheim,Michael F
Abowd,John Maron

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Ph. D., Economics

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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