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SSRN

Volume 106

Protecting Pregnancy

Jennifer Bennett Shinall, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School

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4 Aug 2021

Laws to assist pregnant women in the workplace are gaining legislative momentum, both at the state and federal levels. Last year alone, four such laws went into effect at the state level, and federal legislation advanced farther than ever before in the House of Representatives. Four types of legislative protections for pregnant workers currently exist—pregnancy accommodation laws, pregnancy transfer laws, paid family leave laws, and state disability insurance programs—but very little is known about how each type of legislation performs relative to the others. This Essay provides empirical insight into this question, which is important for setting legislative priorities. After exploiting the differential timing of these laws’ passage at the state level, the Essay finds across multiple specifications that pregnancy accommodation laws and paid family leave laws have several labor market benefits for women who have given birth in the past year. Conversely, pregnancy transfer laws may have unintended, negative consequences for women who have recently given birth. The results suggest that advocacy groups, who have typically favored all four types of legislation, should shift their focus to supporting accommodation and paid family leave laws.

To read this Essay, click here: Protecting Pregnancy.

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