Type of Publication: Article in Journal

Parental leave policies and socio-economic gaps in child development: Evidence from a substantial benefit reform using administrative data

Huebener, Mathias; DanielKuehnle; Spiess, C. Katharina
Title of Journal:
Labour Economics
Volume (Publication Date):
2019 (2019)
Number of Issue:
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Download BibTeX


This paper examines the effects of substantial changes in paid parental leave on child development and socio-economic development gaps. We analyse a German reform that replaced a means-tested with an earnings-related benefit scheme. Higher-income households benefited relatively more from the reform than low-income households. The reform expanded paid leave in the first year, while it removed paid leave in the second year after childbirth. We compare children born around the eligibility cut-off on January 1st 2007 and contrast them with children from the preceding, unaffected cohort within a difference-in-differences approach. The analysis is based on administrative data from mandatory school entrance examinations containing detailed child development assessments at age six. Our precise and robust estimates reveal no effects of the changes in parental leave benefits on child development across various socio-economic groups, and consequently no effects on socio-economic development gaps. However, based on administrative employment data, we document substantial effects on maternal employment and family income. The paper concludes that reform effects on today’s mothers are not sacrificed by increases in SES gaps of the future workforce.

Work in progress (selection)

- Do pictorial warnings on tobacco products affect health outcomes?

- Can a housing-led intensive support program improve the housing, health, and service outcomes of the chronically homeless?  (with Guy Johnson and Yi-Ping Tseng)

- How does parental education affect their children's mental health?  (with Patrick Sturm)

- Media campaigns and smoking (with Simon Reif)

- Distance to GPs and emergency hospital usage (with Ingo Kolodziej and Simon Reif)

- A Firm-side Perspective on Parental Leave Absences (with Mathias Huebener, Jonas Jessen and Michael Oberfichtner)

- The effects of a conditional home care subsidy on maternal employment,  child care choices, and children's development (with Matthias Collischon and Michael Oberfichtner)

- Does paternity leave promote gender equality in the labour market? (with Max Kunaschk and Michael Oberfichtner