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A Flying Start? Maternity Leave Benefits and Long-Run Outcomes of Children

We study a change in maternity leave entitlements in Norway. Mothers giving birth before July 1, 1977, were eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave, while those giving birth after that date were entitled to 4 months of paid leave and 12 months of unpaid leave. The increased time spent with the child led to a 2 percentage point decline in high school dropout rates and a 5 percent increase in wages at age 30. These effects were larger for the children of mothers who, in the absence of the reform, would have taken very low levels of unpaid leave.