NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Little Impact From Family Leave Law

April 13, 2000

The federal family leave law guaranteed new mothers and fathers working for larger employers unpaid maternity leave after the birth of a child. Before the law was passed, most women who returned to full-time work after childbirth went back to their old jobs. Thus the law has had a far smaller impact than originally anticipated, concludes a recent RAND Corporation study.

Researchers Jacob Alex Klerman and Arleen Leibowitz compared the employment patterns of working new mothers with those of other working women of similar age and education.

  • Prior to the law's passage, 89 percent of mothers working full-time both a year before and six months after childbirth wound up working for the same employer.
  • Among other full-timers, 97 percent were working for the same boss after a similar 18 month period.
  • Thus, having a child appears to cause only 8 percent of mothers to switch full-time jobs.

In sum, most working new mothers seem to have held on to their jobs even before the legislation.

Source: Gene Koretz, "Did Maternity Leave Law Help?" Business Week, April 17, 2000.


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