Despite widespread international implementation, limited information is currently available on the economic impact of mandated family leave policies. This paper increases our understanding of the nature and effects of parental leave entitlements in several ways. First, we provide a brief history of family leave legislation in Europe and North America and summarize arguments relating to the efficiency and incidence of mandated leave. Second, we have constructed a longitudinal data set detailing durations of job- protected leave in 17 countries, during the 1960-89 period, and use this information to examine recent trends in the regulations. The data indicate that family leave durations grew rapidly during the decade of the 1970s, with more modest increases since that time. Third, we provide an exploratory investigation of the relationship between mandated leave policies and macroeconomic outcomes. The econometric estimates provide little support for the view that moderate periods of parental leave reduce economic efficiency but rather hint at a modest beneficial impact, particularly when considering paid time off work.