Skip to main content

The effect of California's paid family leave program on employment among middle-aged female caregivers (Kang et. al, 2019)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Kang, J. Y., Park, S., Kim, B., Kwon, E., & Cho, J. (2019). The effect of California's paid family leave program on employment among middle-aged female caregivers. The Gerontologist, 59(6), 1092–1102.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to evaluate the effect of a California paid family leave policy (CA-PFL) on employment of middle-aged female caregivers. 

  • The study used a difference-in-differences design to examine the impact of CA-PFL on employment for middle-aged female care providers. The study used annual data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 2000 until 2014. The authors compared the change in employment rates before and after implementation of CA-PFL among middle-aged care providers in California and among a similar group in other states. 

  • The study found a positive statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and employment for middle-aged female caregivers. The study found no statistically significant relationships between CA-PFL and employment for subgroups by age group or poverty level. The study reported a statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and employment for females with a college education or higher, but not for those with lower education levels. 

  • 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 or include sufficient control variables. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CA-PFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

California paid family leave program (CA-PFL)

Features of the Intervention

California implemented its first statewide paid family leave policy in 2004. Family caregivers were eligible for up to six weeks of paid leave per year if they earned at least $300 per month during any three of the 17 months prior to their claim. Through CA-PFL, in 2018, participants received 55% of their weekly earnings, up to $1,216 per week.  

Features of the Study

The study used a difference-in-differences design to estimate the impact of CA-PFL on middle-aged female care providers. Using data from the Current Population Survey from 2000 to 2014, the authors selected a sample of 68,773 females aged 45-64 living with a family member with a physical limitation or disability. The authors used a statistical model to compare females in the treatment group before and after CA-PFL was implemented in 2004 to a group with similar characteristics from 48 states who did not have access to CA-PFL.  

Findings

Employment 

  • The study found a positive statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and employment for the full sample of middle-aged female caregivers. 

  • The study found a positive statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and employment for early middle-aged female caregivers and no statistically significant relationship for late middle-aged females. 

  • The study found no statistically significant relationships between CA-PFL and employment for poor, near poor, or non-poor female caregivers. 

  • The study found a positive statistically significant relationship between CA-PFL and employment for female caregivers with a college education or higher and no statistically significant relationship for female caregivers with less than a high school degree or those with a high school and associate degree. 

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Although the authors controlled for some demographic characteristics in their model, they did not account for pre-intervention differences on measures related to the outcome domain. The review protocol requires that analysis of employment-related outcomes must include controls for previous employment or earnings from at least one year before program participation. The authors did not include these control variables, so preexisting differences between the groups—and not CA-PFL—could explain the observed differences in the outcome.

Causal Evidence Rating

This study receives a low evidence rating because the authors did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention or include sufficient control variables. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to CA-PFL; other factors are likely to have contributed.  

Reviewed by CLEAR

March 2022