Cover: Employment Continuity Among New Mothers

Employment Continuity Among New Mothers

Published 1993

by Jacob Alex Klerman, Arleen Leibowitz

Purchase Print Copy

Add to Cart Paperback55 pages Free

Recently both state and federal governments have enacted maternity leave legislation. The key provision of that legislation is that after a leave (of a limited duration), the recent mother is guaranteed the right to return to her pre-leave employer at the same or equivalent position. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey-Youth (NLS-Y), this paper correlates work status after childbirth with work status before pregnancy. Almost all women (nearly 90 percent) who work full-time both before and after childbirth continue to work at the same employer. Thus maternity leave legislation is unlikely to have a major effect on employment continuity. However, compared to all demographically similar women, new mothers do have an excess probability of leaving their jobs. Finally, most maternity leave legislation limits its protections to full-time workers with sufficient job tenure at sufficiently large firms. Using the NLS-Y, the paper estimates that the federal Family Leave Act covers only about a third of all working new mothers. The restriction to full-time workers is relatively unimportant because few part-time workers would satisfy the tenure and firm-size requirements.

This report is part of the RAND draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.