Absence of conflict of interest.
The study's objective was to examine the impact of California’s Paid Family Leave Program (CA-PFL) on labor force participation and other labor market outcomes for women with children. The authors also investigated the impact of a similar paid family leave policy implemented in New Jersey, the profile of which can be found here.
Using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) over the period 1999 to 2019, the authors used a difference-in-differences design to estimate the impact of CA-PFL on labor force participation for women with children. The authors used a statistical analysis to compare labor force participation for mothers and non-mothers in California, before and after the implementation of CA-PFL.
The study's findings suggested there was a positive relationship between CA-PFL implementation and labor force participation for mothers. Findings suggested that the positive impact of CA-PFL implementation on labor force participation was concentrated in the first few years after childbirth, with no impact detected among mothers with older children.
The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the authors were not able to control for a pre-intervention (or pre-childbirth) measure of labor-market participation. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the intervention; other factors are likely to have contributed.
California paid family leave program (CA-PFL)
Features of the Intervention
In the United States, there is no national guarantee of paid family leave (PFL) to care for a new or adopted child. To address this gap, eight states and the District of Columbia have implemented their own PFL programs since 2004. This study focuses on the first state PFL program, implemented by California in 2004. California's Paid Family Leave program (CA-PFL) offers 60 to 70 percent of a worker's wages for six weeks to new parents if they earned at least $300 in a period prior to their child's birth. In July 2020, this allotment increased to 90 percent wage replacement for 8 weeks.
Features of the Study
This study used a difference-in-differences design to compare labor force participation for mothers and non-mothers in California, before and after the implementation of the CA-PFL program. The treatment group consists of California women aged 25 to 54 with minor children. The comparison group consists of California women aged 25 to 54 without minor children. The analysis relied on individual-level data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) across the period 1999 to 2019. Information on participants’ current labor-force participation, parental status, and other demographic characteristics are recorded at a single point in time, upon their initial entry into the CPS sample.
- The study suggested that implementation of the CA-PFL program was associated with an increase in the labor force participation of mothers with children aged three or below.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors relied on data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to conduct their analysis, recording women’s labor force status, parental status, and demographic characteristics at a single point in time (e.g., upon entry into the CPS sample). The authors are thus unable to control for a pre-intervention (or pre-childbirth) measure of labor force participation for women included in the analysis sample, as required by CLEAR guidelines. Without pre-intervention measures of labor force participation, the authors may not be able to fully account for possible pre-existing differences between treatment and comparison groups.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors were not able to ensure that the groups being compared were similar prior to 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.