Gaps between women’s and men’s career progress emerge around the age when women are likely to marry and have children. Paid parental leave is the main policy called for by advocates to address this gap. Critics push back against this policy, claiming it will hurt firms’ competitiveness. Previous research studies have focused on the effect of paid leave programs on employees, using data from a single state at a time. However, the impact of paid parental leave on businesses has not yet been studied in a large-scale way that allows for analysis of its impact on employment structure, productivity, and profitability; the strategic behavior of businesses in response to state-level paid family leave policies; or links between outcomes for employees and their employers. Instead, previous studies have focused on the effect of paid leave programs on employees, using data from a single state at a time.
This study will use the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics database linked to the 2000 Census and American Community Surveys (2005-2017) as well as data from the firm and establishment level, to explore how business firms react to newly established paid leave mandates in their states -- and how the new state-level policies impact the business firm performance. The study is part of the Women in the Workplace Research Initiative at the Wellesley Centers for Women.