Labor Market Effects of the ACA's Breastfeeding Provisions

Awarded Scholars:
Rebecca Thornton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Mark Borgschulte, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Project Date:
May 2019
Award Amount:

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included provisions to support breastfeeding, including requiring employers to provide "reasonable break time" and "a place, other than a bathroom," for employees to express breast milk for up to a year after giving birth. Another provision, established in 2012, required health insurance plans to cover breastfeeding supplies and support services.

Economists Rebecca Thornton and Mark Borgschulte will study the impact of these provisions on women’s labor market outcomes.  Using both restricted-access and public-use data from several different sources, they will examine the extent to which the provisions affected the timing of women's return to work after childbirth, their choice to return to work part- or full-time, the number of hours worked, and any changes in women's occupation. They will also measure the indirect effects of these provisions on non-mothers' labor market outcomes and fertility.


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