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Return-to-job during and after maternity leave

Fitzenberger, Bernd
Steffes, Susanne
Strittmatter, Anthony
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
ZEW Discussion Papers 10-103
This paper studies the return-to-job of female employees after first birth based on exceptional longitudinal data from personnel records of a large German company. Given a very long maternity leave coverage, we investigate to what extent data available to management allow to predict the return-to-job during and after maternity leave. Our data show a large heterogeneity in transition patterns, which poses a challenge for management. Maternity leave durations often last for three years or longer. More than 50 percent of those in maternity leave do not return to their job afterwards, either because they leave the company or because they have a second child. At the same time, about 31 percent of female employees return to part-time work during maternity leave, which is often a stepping stone but no guarantee for a return-to-job afterwards. There is mixed evidence as to whether female employees in better job matches are more likely to return to their job in the company. Specifically, we find that the relative wage position, higher tenure, a combination of vocational training and university education, and an above average frequency of previous promotions show a positive association with the return-to-job and a higher employment stability afterwards. At the same time, female employees have their first child, when their careers have been particularly successful in comparison. Among these, a sizeable share does not continue to advance their career and many do not even return to their job.
female employees
maternity leave
match quality
personnel data
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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