The long-run effect of maternity leave benefits on mental health: Evidence from European countries

This paper examines whether maternity leave policies have a causal effect on women´s mental health in old age. We link data for women aged 50 and above from eight countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to data on maternity leave legislation from 1960 to 2010. Using a difference-in-differences approach, our preferred specification suggests that moving from a maternity leave with limited coverage to one with comprehensive coverage around the birth of a first child reduces late life depression scores by 14%.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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