Document Type

Working Paper




Paid Family Leave, Parental Time Use




Working Papers Series


I am grateful to Delia Furtado, Steve Ross, Jorge Aguero, Ken Couch, David Simon, Nicholas Jolly, Nuria Rodriguez-Planas, and conference participants at the 2018 Southern Economics Association Meetings.


Economic Policy | Economics | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


Paid family leave policies are intended to help working parents fulfill their work and child care responsibilities by providing them with paid time off from work after the birth of a child. While other research has shown that paid leave policies increase leave-taking among parents, little is known about how parents of infants spend their time while they are on leave and shortly after returning to work. Using the American Heritage Time Use Study and taking a difference-in-differences approach, this paper shows that the California Paid Family Leave policy led to an additional six hours per week mothers spend on child care activities, four additional hours in basic care and two in educational or recreational care. Notably, the availability of paid leave resulted in increases in time mothers spend with children even after they return to work. The increases in maternal time investments also appear to persist beyond infancy, until children reach age three. While fathers are also eligible for paid leave under the California policy, the policy did not induce a change in the total amount of time fathers spend on child care but did result in slightly more time spent playing with children and less time on basic care activities. Given the large literature showing that parental time investments, especially those made early in a child’s life, play a strong role in child cognitive skill development, the findings in this paper are important for policymakers considering enacting paid leave policies.



Additional Information

Working paper no. 217


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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