The long-run effect of maternity leave benefits on mental health: Evidence from European countries

  • Europe

13th April 2015, Social Science & Medicine

Mauricio Avendanoa, Lisa F. Berkmanb, Agar Brugiavinid, Giacomo Pasinid

This paper  from researchers at London School of Economics and Political Science examines whether maternity leave policies have an effect on women's mental health in older age. It links data for women aged 50 years and above from countries in the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to data on maternity leave legislation from 1960 onwards. The findings suggest that a more generous maternity leave during the birth of a first child is associated with a reduced score of 0.38 points in the Euro-D depressive symptom scale in old age.


•There is controversy on whether maternity leave increases women's well-being.

•This study exploits the diversity in maternity leave policies across Europe.

•A comprehensive maternity leave coverage policy reduces late-life depression.

•Maternity leave benefits have long-run benefits on women’ mental health in older age.


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