The Long-Term Effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act on Women’s Careers: Evidence from U.S. Tax Data

Martha Bailey (University of Michigan)

June 6, 2019, 11:00–12:30


Room MF 323

Development, Labor and Public Policy Seminar


This paper uses administrative tax data from the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) to evaluate the short- and long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA) on women’s careers. Our research design exploits the differential availability of paid leave for California women who gave birth in the third quarter of 2004 (just after the policy became effective on July 1, 2004) relative to multiple comparison groups. We find little evidence that California’s 2004 PFLA increased women’s employment, wage earnings, or attachment to pre-birth employers. On the contrary, the local average treatment effect of PFLA’s on new mothers is a 5 to 7 percent reduction in employment and 5 to 8 percent lower annual wage earnings up to ten years after they give birth. (with Tanya Byker, Elena Patel, and Shanthi Ramnath)