Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 33 , No. 2

[ Article ]
Seoul Journal of Economics - Vol. 33, No. 2, pp.121-161
Abbreviation: SJE
ISSN: 1225-0279 (Print)
Print publication date 30 May 2020
Received 06 Apr 2020 Accepted 17 Apr 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.22905/sje2020.33.2.002

Duration of Parental Leave and Women’s Employment
Jungho Kim
Jungho Kim, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Ajou University & IZA, 206 Worldcup-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, 16499, South Korea, Tel: +82-31-219-2739, Fax: +82-31-219-2195 (jungho@ajou.ac.kr)

Funding Information ▼

JEL Classification: J13, J18, J22


The study examines the consequence of the extension of maximum job-protected and paid leave from 12 months to 15 months in Korea. The analysis, based on regression discontinuity design, finds the reform led to more female employees taking leave and for longer periods. The take-up of leave increased by five percentage points and the duration by 40 days. The probability of returning to work within three years after birth increased by two percentage points after the policy change, but the effect diminished by four years after birth. No significant impact on their return to their pre-birth job is found. This finding implies that a relatively small change in parental leave legislation may promote women’s employment in the short-term. Moreover, the extension of the maximum duration of job-protected leave is not enough to support women’s career development in the long-term. Finally, the short-term impact on women’s employment was the largest for those with the lowest wage and in the smallest firms. Although the evidence is not definitive, the heterogeneous effect needs to be paid further attention in evaluating parental leave policy.

Keywords: Parental leave, Female labor supply, Timing of childbearing, Natural experiment


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2066494). This work was also supported by the Ajou University research fund.

1. Asai, Yukiko. “Parental leave reforms and the employment of new mothers: Quasi-experimental evidence from Japan.” Labour Economics 36 (2015): 72-83.
2. Baker, Michael and Kevin Milligan. “How does job-protected maternity leave affect mothers' employment?” Journal of Labor Economics 26 (No.4 2008): 655-691.
3. Baum, Charles L. “The Effects of Maternity Leave Legislation on Mothers’ Labor Supply after Childbirth.” Southern Economic Journal 69 (No.4 2003): 772-799.
4. Becker, Sascha O., Peter H. Egger, Maximilian von Ehrlich. “Absorptive Capacity and the Growth and Investment Effects of Regional Transfers: A Regression Discontinuity Design with Heterogeneous Treatment Effects.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 5 (No.4 2013): 29-77.
5. Dahl, Gordon, Katrine V. Løken , Magne Mogstad and Kari Vea Salvanes. “What is the Case for Paid Maternity Leave?” The Review of Economics and Statistics 98 (No.4 2016): 655-670.
6. Han, Wen-Jui, Christopher J. Ruhm and Jane Waldfogel. “Parental Leave Policies and Parents’ Employment and Leave-Taking.” Journal of Policy Analysis Management 28 (No.1 2009): 29-54.
7. Hanratty, Maria and Eileen Trzcinski. “Who benefits from paid family leave? Impact of expansions in Canadian paid family leave on maternal employment and transfer income.” Journal of Population Economics 22 (No.3 2009): 693-711.
8. Hofferth, Sandra L. and Sally C. Curtin. “Parental Leave Statutes and Maternal Return to Work After Childbirth in the United States.” Work and Occupation 33 (No.1 2006): 73-105.
9. Kim, Jungho. “Parental Leave and Female Labor Supply in Korea.” KDI Journal of Economic Policy 34 (No.1 2012): 169-197.
10. Kunze, Astrid. “Parental Leave and Maternal Labor Supply.” IZA World of Labor 2016: 279.
11. Kluve, Jochen and Marcus Tamm. “Parental leave regulations, mothers’ labor force attachment and fathers’ childcare involvement: evidence from a natural experiment.” Journal of Population Economics 26 (No.3 2013): 983-1005.
12. Lalive, Rafael and Josef Zweimüller. “How does Parental Leave Affect Fertility and Return to Work? Evidence from Two Natural Experiments.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (No.3 2009): 1363-1402.
13. Lalive, Rafael, Analía Schlosser, Andreas Steinhauer and Josef Zweimüller. “Parental Leave and Mothers' Careers: The Relative Importance of Job Protection and Cash Benefits.” The Review of Economic Studies 81 (No.1 2014): 219-265.
14. Mincer, Jacob and Haim Ofek. “Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital.” Journal of Human Resources 17 (No.1 1982): 3-24.
15. Ondrich, Jan, C. Katharina Spiess, Qing Yang and Gert G. Wagner. “The Liberalization of Maternity Leave Policy and the Return to Work after Childbirth in Germany.” Review of Economics of the Households 1 (No.1-2 2003): 77-110.
16. Rossin-Slater, Maya. “Maternity and Family Leave Policy.” In Averett, Susan L., Laura M. Argys, and Saul D. Hoffman (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
17. Ruhm, Christopher J. “The Economic Consequences of Parental Leave Mandates: Lessons From Europe.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 113 (No.1 1998): 285-317.
18. Ruhm, Christopher J. and Jackqueline L. Teague. “Parental Leave Policies in Europe and North America.” In Blau, Francine and Ronald Ehrenberg (eds.), Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace. New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press, 1997.
19. Schönberg, Uta and Johannes Ludsteck. “Expansions in Maternity Leave Coverage and Mothers’ Labor Market Outcomes after Childbirth.” Journal of Labor Economics 32 (No.3 2014): 469-505.
20. Waldfogel, Jane. “The Impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act.” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 18 (No.2 1999): 281-302.