Absence of conflict of interest.
The study's objective was to examine the impact of the California Paid Family Leave Program (CPFL) on employment.
The study used a nonexperimental design to assess the impact of CPFL on employment outcomes. Using data from the March Current Population Survey, the authors conducted statistical models to estimate the impact of CPFL on employment outcomes of young women in California as compared to young women in other states and men and older women in California and other states.
The study found a significant relationship between CPFL and an increase in young women’s labor force participation, unemployment duration, and unemployment rate.
This study receives a low evidence rating. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CPFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.
California paid family leave program (CA-PFL)
Features of the Intervention
The California Paid Family Leave (CPFL) program was passed in September 2002 and implemented in July 2003. CPFL allows people in California with jobs to take up to six weeks of leave and to receive up to 55 percent of their annual pay to provide care for a family member, newborn, or adopted child. Unlike many other family leave practices in the United States, CPFL is a paid leave program. Prior to CPFL, California's temporary disability insurance (TDI) protected pregnant women from losing their jobs and provided individuals in California who had jobs with payment of up to 50 percent of their annual pay to take sick leave to care for "kin."
Features of the Study
The study is a difference-in-difference analysis assessing employment outcomes associated with CPFL. The authors used data from the March Current Population Survey, which included 34,270 observations from 1996-2009, and created treatment and comparison groups by dividing the population represented in the data by age, gender, and location. The authors used a statistical model to analyze differences in employment outcomes for young women in California (the treatment group) as compared to young women in other states, and men and older women in California and other states (the comparison group), seven years before and seven years after CPFL. The authors specifically analyzed differences in the rate and duration of unemployment and the rate of labor force participation.
The study found that CPFL was significantly associated with an increase in labor force participation (1.37 percentage points higher for young California women relative to the comparison group).
However, the study also found the CPFL was significantly associated with an increase in the unemployment rate (1.48 percentage points higher than the comparison group) and duration of unemployment (1.57 weeks longer than the comparison group).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors did not account for other factors that could have affected the difference between the treatment and comparison groups, such as race/ethnicity as required by the protocol. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not CPFL—could explain the observed differences in outcomes. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CPFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.