The issue of paid parental leave is often debated with many comparing the U.S.’s lack of paid leave to other countries that allow for extended periods of time off and more flexible schedules for new parents. We all know that many parents would welcome the paid time off to be with their new baby, but a recent report from CNN suggests that both children and parent’s health and finances would benefit as well.
In order to measure the health benefits of paid parental leave, CNN looked at more than 20 studies on the subject and talked to numerous experts in the field. What was found was that both child and parent see major benefits to their health and well-being when paid leave is an option.
According to studies, paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality by up to 10% and increase the likelihood of the child having more doctor appointments and receiving more vaccines. Breast feeding duration also increases when moms get paid maternity leave allowing their babies to benefit longer from all of the known perks of breast milk like lowered risk of asthma and obesity.
A parent’s mental health can also see a boost when receiving paid parental leave. One study suggests that women who took more than 12 weeks of paid maternity leave reported feeling less depressive symptoms and having better overall mental health.
There even seem to be some long term benefits of paid parental leave as one study found that women who were given longer paid maternity leave were 18% less likely to suffer depression some 30 years later. This study’s co-author Mauricio Avendano explained, “The very significant message of this paper is that there is a potential for maternity leave benefit programs to have a real long-term effect on the mental health of women and that the effects of maternity leave benefits are not only short-lived ... they are likely to extend for many decades.” He adds, “This is really what economists call a human capital investment. You invest in this, you will end up picking up the benefits of this policy even years later.”
Women who have paid leave and their employers will also see the benefits in their pocket books. Researchers have found that women who have paid maternity leave are more likely to return to their same employer and see wage increases faster than if they were to change companies later. Employers will also save in the long run, retaining loyal employees will cut down on training costs and increase productivity.
What do you think of the evidence in favor of paid parental leave?
Do you think more employers should consider offering paid parental leave?