Protected Family and Medical Job Leave: Evidence from US Administrative Data


Douglas Almond
Professor of Economics and International and Public Affairs


53.3% of employed US mothers were on leave one month after having a child, versus only .8% for fathers [Han et al., 2009]. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act is exceptional in being a US policy mandating unpaid job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons, including childbirth. Surprisingly little is known about the first-order labor market effects of this policy, principally for data reasons. Benefit mandates like the FMLA have costs and benefits which are notoriously difficult to assess. The PI will use new administrative data to evaluate whether FMLA affected retention of female employees, turnover, promotion, earnings, and (in matched survey subsamples) childbearing decisions.

Mandated benefits for demographically-identifiable groups may be expected to affect wages, employment, or work hours [Gruber, 1994]. The PI will analyze administrative data from the Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics (LEHD) and available through the New York Census Research Data Center. The proposed analysis will help inform whether US leave policy affects the gender wage gap. The basic data analysis is readily modified to assess other key dimensions of social policy implemented using firm size thresholds.