THE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL LEAVE POLICY CHANGES WITHIN THE UNIFORMED MILITARY SERVICES
Heissel, Jennifer A.
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The United States has no federal mandates for paid family leave (PFL), an unusual standing among the world’s developed countries. Recent Department of Defense (DoD) policy initiatives have expanded paid maternity and family leave to offer more support to new mothers and other caregivers. The DoD’s increase in maternity leave is a unique policy change for a large and diverse organization. Family leave policies are established as an incentive for attracting and retaining talent. Military leadership emphasized the need to retain the talent and value of female service members as motivation for recent paid maternity leave expansion. Few papers have examined how large-scale programs such as PFL affect parental behavior across demographics in the United States. With a better understanding of the effects from PFL policy changes, the military can employ policy aimed at retaining service members. Our paper examines recent changes to DoD parental leave policy for active duty service members. In 2015, the Department of the Navy tripled paid maternity leave from 6 to 18 weeks. In 2016, the DoD standardized paid maternity leave, reducing Navy and Marine Corps policy from 18 to 12 weeks of maternity leave and expanding Army and Air Force policy from 6 to 12 weeks of maternity leave. Our study uses difference-in-difference and regression discontinuity design methods to examine the impact of these policy changes on retention, birth and pregnancy outcomes, and parental leave taken.
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