Skip to Content | Skip to Search | Skip to Navigation
Indiana University

Beth Neary


Public Affairs

Exam and Minor Fields:

Major: Policy Analysis & Public Finance
Minor: Decision Sciences in the Kelley School of Business

Special Skills and/or Knowledge Base:

Linear Programming, Simulation, and Advanced Econometrics

Dissertation Title:

Paid Parental Leave in the United States: What we can learn from existing international and domestic policies and how we can move forward

Dissertation Committee:

  • Dr. Maureen Pirog, Chair
  • Dr. Justin Ross
  • Dr. Kurt Bretthauer, Kelley School of Business
  • Dr. Jane Waldfogel, School of Social Work, Columbia University

Current Dissertation Progress and Expected Defense Date:

Progress: Proposal to be defended October 15th and two chapters in progress.
Expected Defense Date: Mid-April 2010

Dissertation Abstract:

States within the U.S. are currently grappling with the expansion of parental leave coverage beyond what is guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. One of the most promising directions, initiated first in California and New Jersey and awaiting implementation in Washington State, is paid parental leave. While there has been a short track record for paid family leave policy in the U.S., a great deal can be learned from international paid parental leave programs that have been in place for decades. By looking at the policies and outcomes of these longstanding programs, we can help states better structure their policies. Important policy dimensions include how long paid leave is covered, the wage replacement rate or flat benefit amount, the mechanism for funding the program, and eligibility requirements. In addition to diverse international experiences with federally-operated paid parental leave programs, some proportion of parents in the U.S. have access to paid leave through their employers. This dissertation will examine how the receipt of employer-provided paid leave impacts young families in the U.S. as well as how families are impacted by national-level policies abroad.

In this set of chapters, important questions regarding take-up and potential long-term effects of paid parental leave are evaluated with international data; U.S. families with access to employer-provided paid parental leave are compared to similar families without access to this benefit; and a simulation approach is developed to help inform state and federal policy development.