Western Kentucky University

Poster Title

Checking-in on Mom: An Examination of Paid and Unpaid Leave on Maternal Postpartum Depression

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Political Science and International Affairs

Institution 22-23

Western Kentucky University

KY House District #

20

KY Senate District #

32

Department

Department of Sociology and Criminology

Abstract

As it stands, the United States exists as the only developed country that does not mandate paid parental leave federally, leaving employers to decide whether to offer that benefit. In other countries, access to paid parental leave has been shown to reduce postpartum depression and ease the transition to motherhood for working women, contributing to better mental health overall. A general lack of data on this topic in the United States has influenced my research project’s focus on the relationship between use of a paid parental leave benefit and maternal mental health status measured by postpartum depressive symptoms.

The poster to be presented will examine survey data gathered by Dr. Lauren McClain, a recipient of Fall 2021 RCAP funding for our study’s Parental Leave Survey. The online survey was administered to 2649 parents who had a baby through birth or adoption in the past two years. This was a quota sample based on race/ethnicity, household income, and region of the country. The survey limits the sample to mothers who gave birth (n=1441) to study their experience with postpartum depression. Through ordinary least squares regression analysis, our study will test the hypothesis that access to paid parental leave through an employer is associated with lower incidence of postpartum depression as compared to mothers who took alternative paid leave options, took only unpaid leave, or did not take leave at all. Survey results could provide insight on the potential benefits of a federally mandated paid parental leave policy in the U.S. This is applicable to the state of Kentucky which currently utilizes the federally permitted Family Medical Leave Act which will be discussed in more detail through the poster presentation.

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Checking-in on Mom: An Examination of Paid and Unpaid Leave on Maternal Postpartum Depression

As it stands, the United States exists as the only developed country that does not mandate paid parental leave federally, leaving employers to decide whether to offer that benefit. In other countries, access to paid parental leave has been shown to reduce postpartum depression and ease the transition to motherhood for working women, contributing to better mental health overall. A general lack of data on this topic in the United States has influenced my research project’s focus on the relationship between use of a paid parental leave benefit and maternal mental health status measured by postpartum depressive symptoms.

The poster to be presented will examine survey data gathered by Dr. Lauren McClain, a recipient of Fall 2021 RCAP funding for our study’s Parental Leave Survey. The online survey was administered to 2649 parents who had a baby through birth or adoption in the past two years. This was a quota sample based on race/ethnicity, household income, and region of the country. The survey limits the sample to mothers who gave birth (n=1441) to study their experience with postpartum depression. Through ordinary least squares regression analysis, our study will test the hypothesis that access to paid parental leave through an employer is associated with lower incidence of postpartum depression as compared to mothers who took alternative paid leave options, took only unpaid leave, or did not take leave at all. Survey results could provide insight on the potential benefits of a federally mandated paid parental leave policy in the U.S. This is applicable to the state of Kentucky which currently utilizes the federally permitted Family Medical Leave Act which will be discussed in more detail through the poster presentation.