New Study Shows Paid Family Leave Keeps Women in Workforce

A new study,funded by the March of Dimes underscores the long-term effects of paid family leave on women’s participation in the workforce. The analysis of states that have implemented paid leave policies found a 20 percent reduction in the number of women leaving their jobs in the first year after welcoming a child, and up to a 50 percent reduction after five years.

This study, shared analyzes labor market participation among women in California and New Jersey before and after each state implemented a paid family and medical leave system. Over the long term, paid leave nearly closes the gap in workforce participation between moms of young children and women without minor children. For women who do not have access to this leave, the study found that nearly 30 percent will drop out of the workforce within a year after welcoming a child, and one in five will not return for over a decade.

The impact of access to paid leave was particularly pronounced for women with higher levels of education, who saw increases in their labor force participation up to eight years after birth. This trend indicates that paid leave is especially important for ensuring that the most educated workers can participate in the workforce.

“In most U.S. households, when a child is born, the default is that the mom steps away from the labor force at least temporarily,” said economist and study co-author Dr. Kelly Jones, “If she can do that in a way that guarantees her return to that job and provides partial wage replacement, we are much more likely to encourage her attachment to the workforce.”