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Abstract

While much research has been done on the effects of maternity leave on children's outcomes and maternal employment, less is known about the effects of such policies on choices that are made before one's childbearing years. This paper seeks to fill that gap by focusing on the effect of maternity leave on young women's post-secondary schooling choices. I use the introduction of paid maternity leave and extension of job protection in Norway in 1977, which created plausibly exogenous variation in access to leave, and compare the educational outcomes of the sisters of parents who gave birth immediately prior to and following the reform. I find that having a sibling with access to paid leave reduced the probability of completing a post-secondary degree by 2.75-4.1 percentage points, from a base of 31%, and increased the probability of initiating childbearing by age 25 by 4.9 percentage points, from a base of 46%. Finally, I find that the greatest changes in schooling and timing of fertility occurred among the sisters of women whose earnings five years post-birth benefited the most from the reform.

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