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Special Feature

November 15, 2017

Making the case for paid family leave

Making the case for paid family leave

Paid family leave reduces poverty by removing the stress of dealing with the loss of income, and allowing parents to focus their attention on the health and wellbeing of their new child. Yet family leave remains a luxury in the United States, where only a small number of states have enacted laws guaranteeing paid leave after the birth of a child.

Now an anthropologist and a sociologist at Northwestern are using their disparate research to make a compelling case for better supporting families. Thom McDade and Christine Percheski show how robust paid leave would benefit families not only economically, but also improve kids’ health from the earliest days of life.  

Improving Wealth, Improving Health

More time off...

The United States is the only high-income country in the world that does not offer any paid leave after the birth of a child, leading to high levels of stress and increased likelihood of families falling into poverty.

Family Leave Stats
Breastfeeding stats

More time with baby…

By contrast, fifty nations now offer at least six months of paid leave. In countries like Canada, with generous paid leave policies, women breastfeed up to twice as long as new mothers in the U.S.

...Less inflammation

Research shows that a baby who was breastfed longer than their sibling had less inflammation, which is linked to a host of chronic health ailments. Causal connection between breastfeeding duration and inflammation has been hard to come by, but Northwestern researchers have made the case.

Inflammation Stats

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Faculty Experts

Thom McDade

Thom McDade

Thom McDade is the Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He is also a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR) and director of both the Laboratory for Human Biology Research and Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health.

Christine Percheski

Christine Percheski

Christine Percheski is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research (IPR). Before joining Northwestern, Percheski was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University.

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