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Paid Family Leave and Breastfeeding: Evidence from California

This paper evaluates the effect of Paid Family Leave (PFL) on breastfeeding, which we identify using California’s enactment of a 2004 PFL policy that ensured mothers up to six weeks of leave at a 55 percent wage replacement rate. We employ synthetic control models for a large, representative sample of over 270,000 children born between 2000 and 2012 drawn from the restricted-use versions of the 2003 – 2014 National Immunization Surveys. Our estimates indicate that PFL increases the overall duration of breastfeeding by nearly 18 days, and the likelihood of breastfeeding for at least six months by 5 percentage points. We find substantially larger effects of PFL on breastfeeding duration for some disadvantaged mothers.

Authors: 
Jessica Pac, Columbia University
Ann P. Bartel, Columbia University
Christopher Ruhm, University of Virginia Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
Publication Date: 
May, 2019
Publication Status: 
Document Number: 
2019-031
File Description: 
First version, May, 2019