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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Divergent Trends in US Maternity and Paternity Leave, 1994-2015

Jay L Zagorsky
American Journal of Public Health 2017, 107 (3): 460-465
28103064

OBJECTIVES: To determine the number and type of US workers taking maternity or paternity leave.

METHODS: We created a publicly available ecological long-term series for measuring parental leave from 1994 to 2015 by using the Current Population Survey, which interviews about 60 000 randomly selected households monthly.

RESULTS: The average month from 1994 to 2015 saw 273 000 women and 13 000 men on maternity or paternity leave. Maternity leave rates per 10 000 births showed no trend over 22 years (mean = 677.6). Paternity figures increased by a factor of 3, but started from a small base (14.7-54.6). We observed no national impact on maternity or paternity leave after implementation of state laws that provided paid leave. About half (51.1%) of employees on maternity or paternity leave during 2015 received paid time off. The typical woman on maternity leave was older, more likely married, more likely non-Hispanic White, and more educated than the typical woman who gave birth.

CONCLUSIONS: Although the US economy has expanded dramatically since 1994, this improvement does not appear to have translated into more women taking maternity leave.

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