Paid family leave and the fight against hunger : evidence from New York

Kim, Jiyoon and Lenhart, Otto (2024) Paid family leave and the fight against hunger : evidence from New York. Health Economics, 33 (7). pp. 1503-1527. ISSN 1057-9230 (

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We examine the effects of New York’s paid family leave (PFL) policy, introduced in January 2018, on food security. While researchers evaluating PFL policies in the past have mostly focused on employment and health outcomes, we believe that an improved understanding of potential impacts on food security is pivotal as it is directly related to the health and well-being of mothers and new-borns during the postnatal months. Our analysis uses two primary data sets – Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (CPS-FSS) and Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Estimating difference-in-differences (DD) and triple difference (DDD) models, we show that New York’s PFL reduced the prevalence of low food security by 36% in both datasets. The positive effects are more sizable for households with low-educated heads and families with incomes under 185% of the Federal Poverty Line. These findings highlight that paid leave benefits lead to a larger reduction in food insecurity among disadvantaged families and thus have the potential to reduce existing societal inequalities. When examining potential mechanisms through which New York’s PFL law improves food security, we show that the policy increased food expenditures, increased labor force participation, particularly by mothers, and improved parental health.