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Keywords:

  • breast-feeding;
  • maternity leave policy;
  • parental leave policy;
  • Taiwan

Using the first nationally representative birth cohort study in Taiwan, this paper examines the role that maternity leave policy in Taiwan plays in the timing of mothers returning to work after giving birth, as well as the extent to which this timing is linked to the amount of time mothers spend with their children and their use of breast milk versus formula. We found that the time when mothers returned to work coincided with the duration of guaranteed leave. In particular, mothers with a labor pension plan resumed work significantly earlier than mothers with no pension plan, and mothers with no pension plan returned to work significantly later than those with pension plans. The short leave of absence guaranteed under existing policies translated into mothers spending less time with their children and being more likely to exclusively use formula by 6 months after birth. In contrast, mothers who resumed work later than 6 months after birth were more likely to have not worked before birth or to have quit their jobs during pregnancy. Implications and recommendations for parental leave policy in Taiwan are discussed.