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Does the length of maternity leave affect maternal health?

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NBER Working Paper No. w10206
Chatterji, Pinka and Markowitz, Sara
Publication Date: 
1 Jan 2004

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The objective of this paper is to investigate the impact of the length of maternity leave on maternal health in a sample of working mothers. Two measures of depression and a measure of overall health are used to represent maternal health. Ordinary Least Squares models provide baseline estimates, and instrumental variables models account for the potential endogeneity of the return-to-work decision. The findings suggest that returning to work later may reduce the number or frequency of depressive symptoms, but the length of time before returning to work is not associated with a lower probability of being a likely case of clinical depression. Similarly, there is little evidence that longer maternity leave impacts physical and mental health as measured by frequent outpatient visits during the first six months after childbirth.