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Title: Integrating motherhood and employment : the role of breastfeeding legislation
Author: Singh, Surya
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2018
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Gender equality is a moral imperative and a key enabler for economic growth and organizational performance. Women make up 40% of the global labour force; however, policies to support women in the workplace are lacking. Workplace policies are important to mitigate career interruptions due to child birth and discriminatory practices that women face more often than men that will ultimately affect women’s health and employment outcomes. In this thesis, we study a type of workplace policy that enables a better work environment by encouraging mothers to combine childcare and employment responsibilities—a workplace breastfeeding policy. The United States has implemented workplace breastfeeding policies that allow mothers to express breast milk during the first year of child birth. Policies have been introduced in a selective group of 25 out of 51 states over 1990-2011 in a staggered way where some states encourage and other states require employers to provide facilities and break time. Through robust quasi-experimental methods and rich datasets, we investigate the direct and indirect impacts of the policy. We first find that the policy was successful in its primary objective to increase state-level breastfeeding rates by approximately 5 to 7.1 percentage points. We then study the indirect impacts on mothers’ and fathers’ absenteeism and the within-couple gender earnings gap through an intra-household perspective. We find that the policy reduces mothers’ absenteeism by 10 to 16 days. However, we do not find a spillover effect on fathers. Finally, we find that the policy makes household economic characteristics more balanced and reduces the earnings gap between mothers and fathers by 25%. The findings of this thesis provide several implications for policy makers, firms, and the wider economy. Implementing workplace policies that allow parents to reconcile employment and childcare can be an important avenue to achieve gender equality.
Supervisor: Miraldo, Marisa ; Hauck, Katharina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral