‘More generous maternity pay could boost productivity’

Maternity leave

 

More generous maternity pay schemes could increase productivity, according to a study of female professors.

The study by Vera Troeger, Professor of Quantitative Political Economy and PPE Co-Director at the University of Warwick, found that UK universities with generous occupational maternity pay schemes double the number of female professors compared with those that offer minimal maternity benefits.

The study, published in Advantage – the magazine of the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy at the University of Warwick, indicates that a combination of limited but generous maternity benefits coupled with institutionally provided childcare can help to tackle the ‘leaking pipe problem’ in UK universities, with women under-represented in senior academic positions.

Professor Troeger says the research has broader implications, suggesting that more generous maternity pay can help to keep female talent in the labour market, thereby increasing national productivity.

She concludes: “Our research does not necessarily support the idea of infinitely generous and long maternity leaves,
yet it is in line with previous results on the trade-off between length and generosity. Our findings suggest that a combination of limited but generous maternity benefits coupled with institutionally provided childcare might help to deplete the leakage in the pipe.

“We can possibly draw inferences from the UK higher education sector more broadly.  Our research shows that more generous maternity pay can help keeping female talent in the labour market thereby increasing productivity. There seems to be room for improvement: more generous parental leave policies could help close the productivity gap and thus pay for themselves in the long run.”


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