The benefits of paid parental leave are well-established, and help make a solid case for why the United States should pursue a paid family leave policy -- as a way of supporting children’s health and wellbeing, while also strengthening families.
Paid parental leave is closely linked with reducing infant mortality. In fact, according to one study from 2011, paid parental leave can reduce infant mortality by up to 10%.
Paid parental leave also helps babies’ health by increasing the likelihood that parents will have time to take the infant to the doctor for vaccinations. According to one 2005 study, paid parental leave directly enhances the changes that children will get their measles and polio vaccines because the mother has time to take the infant to wellness health appointments.
Other benefits of paid parental leave include an increase in fathers’ involvement with their newborn babies. One study by the U.S. Department of Labor notes that fathers’ ability to take time to bond with their children means increased “personal and economic wellbeing” for the entire family.
From the report: “Although paid leave is often framed as an issue that matters to working women, paid parental leave is also critically important for fathers. Policies that ensure fathers have the support they need to prioritize their family responsibilities, while also meeting work demands, can significantly increase the personal and economic wellbeing of their families. Paternity leave – and especially longer leaves of several weeks or months – can promote parent-child bonding, improve outcomes for children, and even increase gender equity at home and at the workplace. Paid parental leave for fathers, as well as for mothers, provides a real advantage to working families.”
Another advantage of Paid Family Leave is women’s economic well-being. Women who have access to a Paid Family Leave program tend to go back to work after the birth of a child, and to remain with the same employer for longer periods of time. Over time, these two facts lead to higher wages for women.