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Did California Paid Family Leave Impact Infant Health?

Journal article
Authors Ariel Pihl
G. Basso
Published in Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Volume 38
Issue 1
Pages 155-180
ISSN 0276-8739
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economics
Pages 155-180
Language en
Keywords day-care attendance, maternity leave, parental leave, child health, early-life, asthma, hospitalizations, insurance, expansions, employment
Subject categories Economics, Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


The effects of paid parental leave policies on infant health have yet to be established. In this paper we investigate these effects by exploiting the introduction of California Paid Family Leave (PFL), the first program in the U.S. that specifically provides working parents with paid time off for bonding with a newborn. We measure health using the full census of infant hospitalizations in California and a set of control states, and implement a differences-in-differences approach. Our results suggest a decline in infant admissions, which is concentrated among those causes that are potentially affected by closer childcare (and to a lesser extent breastfeeding). Other admissions that are unlikely to be affected by parental leave do not exhibit the same pattern.

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