The Effects of State Workforce and Safety Net Policies on Maternity-Leave Job Quitting among Less-Educated Workers

Award Year


Grant Type

Early Career Research Award


Low-income working women in the U.S. are disproportionately ineligible for public and private sector maternity-leave policies. Bridging this gap are means-tested safety net programs that provide resources to support economically disadvantaged expectant and new working mothers. The use of safety net programs as a means of taking maternity leave presents a conundrum to those concerned with the role of work and the safety net in supporting low-wage mothers: In the absence of alternative maternity leave resources, means-tested assistance may be the optimal path for supporting mothers and their children during work interruptions. Yet, this path may also lead to increased or hastened job quitting and delayed employment reentry. This project will examine the effects of state safety net and workforce policies on the probability and timing of job quitting before and after a birth among less-educated working women. We will use the fertility module of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and construct a sample of births that spans from 1998 to 2009. We will use a difference-in-differences (DD) analytic approach to leverage differences in state safety net and workforce policies between states and across time while controlling for state economic context and individual demographic characteristics. This project is salient to the Institute’s mission of supporting early career research that examines the intersection of the labor market and public workforce policies.