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The economic consequences of family policies: lessons from a century of legislation in high-income countries

Olivetti, Claudia and Petrongolo, Barbara (2017) The economic consequences of family policies: lessons from a century of legislation in high-income countries. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31 (1). pp. 205-230. ISSN 0895-3309

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Identification Number: 10.1257/jep.31.1.205

Abstract

By the early 21st century, most high-income countries have put into effect a host of generous and virtually gender-neutral parental leave policies and family benefits, with the multiple goals of gender equity, higher fertility, and child development. What have been the effects? Proponents typically emphasize the contribution of family policies to the goals of gender equity and child development, enabling women to combine careers and motherhood, and altering social norms regarding gender roles. Opponents often warn that family policies may become a long-term hindrance to women's careers because of the loss of work experience and the higher costs to employers that hire women of childbearing age. We draw lessons from existing work and our own analysis on the effects of parental leave and other interventions aimed at aiding families. We present country- and micro-level evidence on the effects of family policy on gender outcomes, focusing on female employment, gender gaps in earnings, and fertility. Most estimates range from negligible to a small positive impact. But the verdict is far more positive for the beneficial impact of spending on early education and childcare.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.aeaweb.org/journals/jep
Additional Information: © 2017 American Economic Association
Divisions: Centre for Economic Performance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
K Law > K Law (General)
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J12 - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J13 - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J16 - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J18 - Public Policy
N - Economic History > N3 - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income, and Wealth > N30 - Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Income and Wealth: General, International, or Comparative (Migration)
N - Economic History > N4 - Government, War, Law, and Regulation > N40 - General, International, or Comparative
Sets: Collections > Economists Online
Research centres and groups > Centre for Economic Performance (CEP)
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2017 14:21
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2019 02:36
Funders: UK Commission for Employment and Skills
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/69963

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