A Comparison of American and European Maternity Leave Usage and Outcomes


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The purpose of this thesis is to explore the disparities across maternity leave usage and access in the United States, the associated employment outcomes, and how these outcomes differ from European countries, where national paid maternity leave policies exist. The aim is to gain new knowledge on the consequences of a lack of paid leave national policy in the United States. A better understanding of national maternity leave policy in the United States is beneficial to mothers and families, the organizations that employ these family members, and those entrusted with enacting new policies. A literature review and analysis of archival data was conducted to discover the impacts of paid maternity leave policy and lack thereof. The literature review covered how policy and women’s employment interact. The data analysis showed that contextual factors also interacted with the two. The data analysis demonstrated how employment outcomes do not follow much of a pattern to the length of maternity leave, suggesting that there is another component influencing employment outcomes. The data analysis also demonstrated that the United States stands out from European countries analyzed in their ratio of absence on leave and their net equivalized income one month after birth.



maternity leave, organizational commitment, paid leave policy, employment outcomes