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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.

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: 
File Description: 
First version, May, 2019