The effects of paid family leave on food insecurity-evidence from California

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This study examines the relationship between the 2004 introduction of California’s paid family leave (PFL) program on food security. While previous work has shown that PFL laws affect employment, poverty and health, there is no evidence so far whether such policies affect food security levels of families after the birth of a child. Estimating difference-in-differences (DD) and triple difference (DDD) models, this is the first study to evaluate potential effects on food security, which could be a potential mechanism explaining improvements in health outcomes for both infants and mothers found in previous studies. My analysis shows that California’s PFL implementation reduced the incidence of very low household food security by 2.29 (DD) and 1.98 percentage points (DDD) in the year following a birth. I find that the effects are driven improvements in food security among children who are 1.41 percentage points less likely to be food insecure after the PFL introduction. Subgroup analysis shows that the effects are largest for low-income households, a group that has been shown to highly value PFL benefits, as well as for families with more than one child.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages25
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Early online date7 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2021


  • paid family leave
  • food insecurity
  • childbirth
  • California


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