Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of California's Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL) program on earnings and wages.
This study used a quasi-experimental, triple difference-in-differences design. Using data from the American Community Survey from 2000 to 2013, the author used a statistical model to compare outcomes for mothers of 1-year old children before and after the implementation of CA-PFL, compared to mothers in states where paid family leave policies had not been implemented, and compared to mothers of older children (ages 10-14) who gave birth prior to CA-PFL implementation.
The study suggested a statistically significant positive relationship between CA-PFL implementation and household income for mothers with 1-year old children.
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author was not able to establish that the treatment and comparison groups were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to California’s Paid Family Leave program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
California paid family leave program (CA-PFL)
Features of the Intervention
California’s Paid Family Leave (CA-PFL) program provides mothers and fathers with paid time off work prior to and after the arrival of a child. The CA-PFL program aims to address high rates of economic insecurity around the time of a birth and offset the potential long-term impacts for families. The intervention provides a partial salary replacement for six-weeks during the first year after a birth, adoption, or foster care placement. The CA-PFL program began in July 2004.
Features of the Study
This study used individual-level microdata from the American Community Survey (ACS) over the period 2000 to 2013. The ACS is a repeat-cross-section survey: individuals and households are not linked across survey years and thus appear only once in the ACS data.
The sample consists of mothers from California and five comparison states. Comparison states were selected based on similarity to California with specific criteria considered, they are: Arizona, Illinois, New York, Texas, and Washington. Criteria for selection was based on the states' long-standing temporary disability insurance programs, which paid family leave programs are generally built upon, and two states (Texas and Arizona) that were selected due to demographic similarity to California. The study used a quasi-experimental, triple difference-in-differences design. The treatment group consists of California mothers of 1-year old children, who were surveyed after the implementation of CA-PFL. The comparison groups consist of: California mothers of 1-year old children who were surveyed before the implementation of CA-PFL, mothers of 1-year old children from comparison states without paid family leave programs, and mothers of children ages 10-14 whose children were born before the implementation of CA-PFL. The triple-difference design first compares household income for California mothers of 1-year old children prior to and following implementation of the state’s paid family leave program. The study compares this first difference to a second difference: changes in household earnings for mothers in other states that did not have paid family leave, before and after the implementation of CA-PFL. The third difference compares the difference in household earnings for mothers of 1-year old children before and after implementation to the difference in household earnings for mothers of older (10-14) children before and after implementation.
Employment and Wages
- Study findings suggested that the CA-PFL implementation was associated with higher levels of household income among California mothers with 1-year old children.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The author accounted for gender, race, ethnicity, age, and other individual level demographic controls in their statistical analysis. However, because mothers were surveyed only once in the ACS data, the author was not able to directly control for pre-intervention levels of household income at the individual level. Therefore, this study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for non-experimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author was not able to control for pre-intervention measures of the study outcome at the individual level. Therefore, this study was not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for non-experimental designs. This means we cannot be confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CA-PFL program; other factors are likely to have contributed.