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Title: Essays on the Labor Market, Public Policy, and Economic Opportunity
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Timpe, Brenden
Essays on the Labor Market, Public Policy, and Economic Opportunity
Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Michigan, 2019
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Educational Attainment; Family Income; Head Start; Labor Force Participation; Leave, Family or Maternity/Paternity; Maternal Employment; Wages

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

This dissertation focuses on the interaction between public policy and the U.S. labor market, and its consequences for the economic opportunities available to American women and children. I focus on two public policies designed to enhance opportunities for less advantaged groups: The United States' first large-scale expansion of paid maternity benefits, and the launch of the Head Start preschool program in the 1960s and 1970s. The common thread in these essays is the use of large-scale data and transparent methodologies to examine the interactions between these policies and individuals' outcomes in the labor market.

The first chapter provides the first evidence of the effect of a U.S. paid maternity leave policy on the long-run outcomes of children. I exploit variation in access to paid leave that was created by long-standing state differences in short-term disability insurance coverage and the staggered enactment of laws that banned discrimination against pregnant workers in the 1960s and 1970s. While the availability of these benefits sparked a substantial expansion of leave-taking by new mothers, it also came with a cost. I find the enactment of paid leave led to shifts in labor supply and demand that decreased wages and family income among women of child-bearing age. In addition, the first generation of children born to mothers with access to maternity leave benefits were 1.9 percent less likely to attend college and 3.1 percent less likely to earn a four-year college degree.

Chapter 2 examines the labor-market consequences of a broad expansion of access to paid maternity benefits. The theoretical implications of maternity leave policies are ambiguous, with the potential for positive effects that stem from greater attachment to the labor force among mothers but also negative effects that could result from shifts in relative labor demand. I show that the enactment of maternity benefits through STDI slowed the convergence of the gender wage ratio by 31 percent between 1975 and 1985. I also provide evidence that this effect was driven in large part by apparent substitution of men for women into high-profile professional and management positions.

Bibliography Citation
Timpe, Brenden. Essays on the Labor Market, Public Policy, and Economic Opportunity. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Economics, University of Michigan, 2019.