Is there such a thing as too long childcare leave?

Rense Nieuwenhuis, Ariana Need, Henk van der Kolk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to revisit the question whether women’s employment is negatively affected in countries with very long periods of childcare leave.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors analyzed data on 192,484 individual women, 305 country-years, and 18-countries, combined with country-level data on childcare, unemployment and service sector size.

Findings: The authors found that in countries with short periods of childcare leave the motherhood-employment gap is smaller than in countries with no childcare leave, while in countries with long periods of childcare leave the motherhood-employment gap is bigger than with short periods of leave.

Originality/value: The authors argued that to correctly answer the long-leave question – the relationship between duration of leave and employment of women should be explicitly hypothesized as being curvilinear; and childcare leave should be expected to affect only mothers, not women without children; testing the long-leave hypothesis requires the use of country-comparative data in which countries are observed repeatedly over time; and is best tested against person-level data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-15
JournalInternational journal of sociology and social policy
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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