Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Roberto Pedace

Reader 2

Yasemin Dildar

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© 2016 Aimee Samantha Abrams Widdicombe


The U.S. is the only OECD country that does not offer any form of federal paid parental leave. Only three states—California, New Jersey and Rhode Island—have state-provided paid leave policies; implemented in 2004, 2009 and 2014, respectively. Through descriptive statistics and difference-in-difference-in-difference regression analyses of the wages of women and men of childbearing age (19-45 years) in those three states, we assess whether the paid leave programs have effected wages, and whether these effects vary depending on gender. Our results show that wages of women of childbearing age saw negligible net effects post-policy in policy states, although statistically insignificant. On the other hand, the wages of men of childbearing age saw improvements post-policy implementation in policy states, compared to wages in non-policy states. Although the policies do not necessarily widen the gender wage gap, they do not work to help close it, due to flaws in the policies. To be more effective in reducing gender wage gaps, these policies need to increase the amount of paid support, and implement job protection rights in order to decrease the opportunity costs of men taking leave. If more men are able to take paid leave, then potentially parts of the gender wage gap that are due to employers viewing women as less attached to the workforce can decrease. Through this research we came to important conclusions that highlight the ways in which support of working parents in the US is lacking, and offered recommendations to create more equitable and effective policies.


Submitted to Scripps College in Partial Fulfillment of the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honors