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The Effect of California's Paid Family Leave Program on Employment Among Middle-Aged Female Caregivers

Background and Objectives This study examined the effect of a Paid Family Leave program in California (CA-PFL) on employment among middle-aged female caregivers. We also examined differences in the relationship between the availability of paid family leave (PFL) and employment in socioeconomic subgroups of midlife women. Research Design and Methods Data came from multiple years (2000‒2014) of the Current Population Survey (CPS) (N = 68,773 individuals). Applying a Difference in Differences (DiD) approach to removing potential selection biases related to program participation, we used a logistic regression to estimate the effects of PFL. Results There was a significant increase in the likelihood of working based on CA-PFL. This positive effect, however, was found only among the early middle-aged, the near-poor, and those had the highest level of education. Discussion and Implications Among the late middle-aged, caregiving burden may not affect decisions on whether to exit the labor market, and PFL may not significantly mitigate the well-known negative effects of intense and multiple caregiving roles (parents, spouse, and/or children with disabilities). Future studies should examine PFL effects and their correlates such as age-cohorts, caregiving intensity, and retirement patterns. The unexpected null findings of CA-PFL's effect on employment outcomes for the poor and those with low education levels suggests these vulnerable groups might not be able to fully benefit from the originally intended goal of the policy, instead being left more vulnerable compared to the near poor. Such a possibility increases the importance of focused research and policymaking attention for this group.

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Type of Reference
Type of Work
Journal article
Oxford university press
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Issue Number
Journal Titles
The Gerontologist
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