Family Leave Policies and Fertility: The Case of California Paid Family Leave

Pamela Meyerhofer , Cornell University

Current research on maternal and parental leave focuses on leave take-up and employment outcomes, finding that short leaves improve labor market outcomes. As the US faces below replacement fertility and an aging population, potential unintended fertility consequences of these policies are crucial. Generous European and Australian policies have increased fertility and fertility intentions. The unpaid Family Medical Leave Act in the US also increased fertility. Yet, we do not know the effect of short, modestly paid leaves on fertility, especially in the US policy context. Using Synthetic Control Method, I estimate the impact of the introduction of a modest paid family leave policy, California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL), on several fertility outcomes. Preliminary results find no impact of CA-PFL on birthrates, even among higher parity births where previous literature found the largest effect. This means that women can reap the labor market benefits without the policy contributing to population decline.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity