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Keywords:

  • family leave;
  • family policy;
  • maternity leave

Abstract

This article uses data from employer surveys and the March Current Population Survey to investigate the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on coverage, leave-taking, employment, and earnings. The variation in state laws prior to the FMLA and the variation in coverage under the FMLA provides a “natural experiment” in which the effect of the law can be compared for treatment and con-trol groups. Although the FMLA covers less than half of workers in the private sector (many of whom already had coverage pre-FMLA), this article finds that leave cover-age and usage did increase post-FMLA. The other surprising finding is that this mandated benefit had no significant negative effects on women's employment or wages. ©1999 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.