The U.S. lags far behind other countries in public policies that support parents in the crucial first days, weeks, and months of a child's life. Most notably, the U.S. is the only developed country that does not guarantee a period of paid and job-protected leave for new parents. As a result, paid family leave coverage is both limited and highly unequal. This situation, however, is beginning to change, as California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island and a handful of U.S. cities now have paid family leave (PFL) programs.
Focusing on California, this study will examine the effects of the law on: breast-feeding; receipt of well-baby care and immunizations; and maternal mental health. It will analyze large, nationally representative datasets, using econometric procedures to determine causal impacts.
This research will obtain information on whether work-family policies, such as PFL, promote a Culture of Health and reduce disparities. This evidence will be important as other states and Congress consider additional legislation in this area.