Paid Parental Leave Reforms and Mothers’ Employment in Austria, France and Hungary


  • Zsuzsanna Makay Hungarian Demographic Research Institute



Parental leave, Family policy, Labour market entry after childbirth, Policy reforms, Work family conciliation


This study focuses on changes in the length of paid parental leave in Austria, France and Hungary between the 1960s and the first decade of the 2000s. Its aim is to analyse to what extent extensions and reductions of the duration of paid parental leave affect mothers’ labour market entry after childbirth. For each country, periods according to the different policy reforms are analysed and data from the Generations and Gender Survey are used to account for changes in mothers’ labour market entry.

Scholars have argued that too long periods of paid parental leave might act as work-reducing policy in that they hinder women’s labour market entry while short leaves have positive effects on labour market participation and wages. This phenomenon is studied in three countries with very different conciliation policies.

Results for Austria show that the introduction of more flexibility into the leave legislation in 2008 increased mothers’ relative risks of labour market entry especially among higher educated women. In France, the extension of paid leave for second born children in 1994 reduced labour market entry. We found however, no significant effect of the 1986 reform for third children and the 2004 reform introducing a paid leave of six months for first-born children. In Hungary, labour market entry of mothers was influenced by structural changes which accompanied the political transition of 1989 and resulted in longer leave take up of mothers. Labour market entry before the transition was more intensive than ever since that.

* This article belongs to a special issue on “Demographic Developments in Eastern and Western Europe Before and After the Transformation of Socialist Countries”.




How to Cite

Makay, Z. 2023. Paid Parental Leave Reforms and Mothers’ Employment in Austria, France and Hungary. Comparative Population Studies. 48, (Aug. 2023). DOI:



Research Articles