Research in Progress

“Subsidizing Breastmilk: Can Paid Parental Leave Reduce Breastfeeding Inequalities?”

The Quebec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP) that was introduced in 2006 differed from its predecessor, the Employment Insurance Program, in several features. Its lower eligibility criteria made qualifying for benefits easier and the program also offered better financial compensation through higher income replacement rates and raised income ceilings, which made taking parental leave more affordable. I first investigate whether the QPIP program had heterogeneous effects on the leave-taking behavior of mothers from different family, education and income backgrounds. Next, I explore whether the program may have affected health inequalities in breastfeeding initiation and duration and mothers’ self-reported health and stress. I utilize restricted-use data from the Canadian Community Health Survey from 2005-2008 and a difference-in-differences approach that exploits variation across provinces over time. I find that the introduction of QPIP had an average treatment effect of increasing breastfeeding initiation rates by 7.5%. QPIP also lengthened the duration of breastfeeding, increasing the probability of a mother breastfeeding 6 months or more by 17%, and of exclusively breastfeeding for 12 weeks or more by 35%. Importantly, QPIP’s improvements in eligibility and compensation are related to reduced inequalities in leave-taking – and consequently, reduced health disparities. Single mothers, less-educated mothers and those in households in the bottom third of the income distribution show the greatest improvements in breastfeeding practices under the new program.  (In Progress)


“Family Leave in the United States: Lessons from California and New Jersey”

Only three states in the United States offer working parents access to paid parental leave: California introduced the nation’s first family insurance program in 2005, followed by New Jersey in 2008, with Rhode Island introducing its scheme as recently as January 2014. This paper studies the two larger programs in California and New Jersey, to investigate the impact of paid family leave on mothers’ and fathers’ leave-taking behavior and future labor market outcomes. Since the California and New Jersey programs differ in such features as replacement rates and income caps, this paper studies how these two different programs affected different types of families. In a nation as large and diverse as the United States, with well-documented inequalities in access to parental leave programs, this study uses data from the Current Population Survey to explore which program designs are most effective in reducing inequalities in leave access and utilization among parents of different backgrounds.  (In progress)


 “The Curious Case of The Danish Daddy Quota: What Happens Once It Is Removed?”

Denmark is the only nation to have introduced a `daddy quota’ of parental leave for fathers but then subsequently taken it away. The Danish daddy quota was only in place between 1999-2002, and provides an interesting case to study the mechanisms behind how quotas influence fathers’ behavior and also the persistence of those effects once the constraint is removed. Using Danish Registry data, this project explores the `stickiness’ of the effects of daddy quotas. Does the labeling effect of `daddy-only’ leave disappear once the quota is removed? That is, do such programs permanently alter social norms, or do they only temporarily reduce stigma while the labels are actively in place i.e. through salience? The richness of registry data allows me to track the transmission of these effects across coworkers and brothers. I can therefore investigate whether the quota’s influence may disappear more slowly among those exposed to peer effects. This is the first study to examine the permanence of labeling effects from a daddy quota, and provide evidence on the mechanisms behind why the labeling effects work. (In Progress)


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