Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Wim Vijverberg

Committee Members

Ted Joyce

Jennifer Roff

Subject Categories

Labor Economics


Paid family leave, Economics, Education, Fertility


Chapter 1: The first chapter is a literature survey that reviews the empirical research conducted on paid family leave in the United States. This chapter summarizes the documented benefits of paid family leave on women's labor force participation, leave usage, and children's health. Also, evidence that suggests potentially harmful effects of paid family leave is discussed. Possible directions for future research are explored, and the chapter concludes by considering the implementation of a national paid family leave program in the United States.

Chapter 2: The second chapter replicates and extends the results of Rossin-Slater et al. (2013). The purpose of this exercise is twofold. First, validating the results of a study that is the foundation of the literature on paid family leave in the U.S. is worthwhile in its own right. Second, extending the work of Rossin-Slater et al. by including later years of data allows me to examine the robustness of the results over time. Third, examining the robustness of Rossin-Slater et al.'s work to the choice of other estimation models, bolsters their findings. Furthermore, by extending the analysis to other states that have implemented paid family leave programs (namely New Jersey and Rhode Island), I present evidence that bolsters my claim that California’s paid family leave program (CA-PFL) generates stronger effects than New Jersey’s program (NJ-PFL) or Rhode Island’s (RI-PFL), supporting the decision to focus my empirical investigation in Chapter 3 on CA-PFL alone. This chapter also examines the impact of CA-PFL on women's labor force participation at the extensive margin.

Chapter 3: The third chapter estimates the impact of CA-PFL on women's years of schooling and fertility, arguing that CA-PFL is a source of exogenous variation in expectations about future labor force participation for women. If in the absence of paid leave, childbearing and childrearing can lead a mother to reduce or even terminate her time at work by dropping out of the labor force, then California's policy may change expectations about career span. In this chapter, I sketch out a model that shows that the theoretical impact of paid family leave on labor force participation is ambiguous. In addition to addressing the policy debate on whether paid family leave can impact women's educational outcomes and career choices, this study contributes to the literature on the effects of paid leave, and more specifically, on the small literature analyzing the effects of CA-PFL. Much of the research conducted on this policy thus far has focused on its impact on labor force participation (Rossin-Slater et al., 2013, Baum and Ruhm, 2016) and maternal health (Rossin, 2011). I contribute to this literature by exploring the possibility that the program induces increases in schooling investments and impacts the fertility decision. I find that CA-PFL delays, but overall increases, educational investments of young women in California.