Long-term economic benefit of paid family leave

January 10, 2020

A new study funded by the March of Dimes Center for Social Science Research and conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), highlights the long-term effects of paid family leave on women’s participation in the U.S. workforce. This study is part of March of Dimes’ ongoing work to better understand the many medical, social and economic factors that contribute to the maternal and infant health crisis facing our nation.

The study, whose findings were shared at the American Economic Association Annual Meeting, looked at labor market participation among women in California and New Jersey before and after each state implemented (applied) a paid family and medical leave system. Below are key details:

  • States that have implemented paid leave policies found that 20 percent fewer women leave their jobs in the first year after welcoming a child, and up to 50 percent fewer leave after five years.
  • For women who do not have access to paid leave, the study found that nearly 30 percent will drop out of the workforce within a year after welcoming a child, and one in five women will not return to the workforce for over a decade (more than 10 years).
  • Over the long term, paid leave nearly closes the gap in workforce participation between moms of young children and women without minor children (a person under the age of 18).

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not offer working parents paid time off to care for a new child. Many challenges facing new parents and their families could be solved if the U.S. provided paid family leave. That’s why March of Dimes supports the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1185/S. 463), which is currently under review by Congress. This Act would create an affordable and self-sustaining national system to provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income through a family and medical leave insurance fund.

Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family. This research is part of March of Dimes’ mission to advance actionable science that can improve the health of all moms and babies. Learn more about March of Dimes and its work at marchofdimes.org.