When Dad Stays Home: Paternity Leave and Maternal Health
Location:Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building
Audience:Restricted to WWS students, faculty, and fellows
Center for Health and Wellbeing, Research Program in Development Studies and the Princeton Program in Public Economics.
This paper studies how increased father presence in the household shortly after childbirth affects maternal postpartum health. Using linked Swedish administrative population-level data together with variation from a reform that allowed fathers to take full-time paid leave at the same time as mothers, we show that paternity leave reduces maternal inpatient and specialist outpatient visits for childbirth-related complications, with larger effects among mothers with pre-birth medical histories. We also find a reduction in antibiotic prescriptions and suggestive evidence for a decrease in anti-anxiety drug use among mothers in the first few months after childbirth. Our results suggest that father presence in the household could be critical for maternal postpartum recovery and health. They further imply that policies that encourage father involvement through sequential rather than simultaneous leave-taking--such as the widely discussed “Daddy Month”-type reforms--can have the unintended effect of exacerbating maternal postpartum health issues.