Employer Provision of Paid Family Leave in Three States

Awarded Scholars:
Jane Waldfogel, Columbia University
Ann P. Bartel, Columbia University
Maya Rossin-Slater, University of California, Santa Barbara
Christopher Ruhm, University of Virginia
Project Date:
Nov 2016
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Because 45 states have no government-provided paid parental leave, its provision is at employers’ discretion. Yet, little is known about the level of, or inequality in, employer provision of paid parental leave. The best source of national data—the National Compensation Survey (NCS)—indicates that only 13% of employees have paid family leave. The NCS does not provide data about leave usage and it releases data only at the national and regional level. Other employer surveys exist, but they focus either mainly or entirely on medium and large firms.

Jane Waldfogel and colleagues will collect survey data from small and medium-sized employers (with 10-99 employees) in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—three states that represent distinct policy settings. They will survey a size-stratified sample of 2250 establishments (1000 in NY, and 625 each in NJ and PA) across all industries. The survey will obtain information on employers’ provision of employee benefits and their experience with (female or male) employee usage, with particular attention to parental leave policies. The investigators will ask about methods used by the companies to cover the work of employees on leave, and the ease or difficulty faced by companies in arranging this coverage. They will also examine employer attitudes towards paid parental leave, with a focus on the extent to which the “framing” of information regarding paid leave matters. 


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


Join our mailing list for email updates.