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Functional social support and maternal stress: A study on the 2017 paid parental leave reform in Japan

Chi Zhang () and Shunsuke Managi

Economic Analysis and Policy, 2020, vol. 65, issue C, 153-172

Abstract: This study investigates how paid parental leave (PPL) can supplement functional social support and affect maternal stress in a context of undersupplied childcare support. A Japanese PPL reform implemented in 2017 improves functional social support by entitling an additional 6-month extendable PPL period to parents with childcare arrangement difficulties, making the maximum length of the postpartum job-protected leave period increased from 18 months to 24 months. We explore the stress-relief effect of being eligible for the new entitlement using an observational dataset originally collected before and after the policy intervention. We construct a policy-relevant sample and a policy-irrelevant sample of mothers with regular employment based on the eligibility conditions of the new entitlement and balance the pre- and postintervention cohorts using coarsened exact matching. The policy effect is identified by comparing the pre- and postintervention maternal stress of balanced policy-relevant observations; the unconfoundedness assumption, which validates the identification strategy, is tested by analyzing the policy-irrelevant sample. The results indicate that being eligible for the additional PPL period has a relief effect on maternal low-level stress, and the effect is more pronounced for married mothers from medium–high household income families; the eligibility is found to have a null effect on maternal high-level stress.

Keywords: Functional social support; Support deficit; Childcare; Paid parental leave; Maternal stress; Maternal mental health (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I1 I38 J13 J18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.eap.2019.12.001

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