Maternity Leave: How It Affects Lives Gendered Perspective
The persistence of gender differences in wage profiles reflects, in part, the effect of motherhood on the careers of women. In the absence of adequate leave policies, new mothers tend to drop from the labor force to take care of their children. When children reach weaning age, some mothers return to the labor market; however, they are faced with substantial setbacks in their wage profiles, if compared with men of similar experience and education, in part, as their skills may have depreciated after a long period of unemployment. This work belongs to the literature on gender inequality in the labor market, recently surveyed by Bertrand . In particular, it is related to the work emphasizing the effect of parenthood on gender differences. We adopt a quasi-experimental approach by looking into the recent reform to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Since 1993, The FMLA guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child. To be eligible, a person must work for an employer with 50 or more employees, have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that 12-month period. California was the first state to enact a paid family leave program in 2004, expanding its Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program to include family leave benefits. In 2008 New Jersey adopted the Family Leave Insurance (FLI), also built on top of an existing TDI program, and started its implementation in 2009. In 2013 Rhode Island introduced the Temporary Caregiver Insurance, which became effective in 2014. Paid leave programs provide eligible workers with a portion of their wages for a set number of weeks. In California and New Jersey, workers receive up to six weeks of paid family leave and workers in Rhode Island receive up to four weeks. The state insurance programs also extend the coverage provided under the FMLA; workers, however, do not always receive job protection during periods of leave.
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