Working paper

The drivers of mothers’ parental leave decisions: evidence from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal survey

Parental leave Mothers Parenting and guardianship New Zealand

In this paper, the authors compare mothers’ preferred leave, anticipated leave, and realised leave to shed light on how well different types of mothers are able to predict the parental leave they will take, and the factors that drive them to deviate from their plans.

Key findings:

  • On average, working mothers would prefer to take 69 weeks of leave, much longer than the 26 weeks of paid parental leave currently available. They expect to be able to take only 36 weeks, with much of the difference because of financial constraints.
  • Half of mothers return to work earlier than expected, often motivated by financial difficulties. This is especially true of low-income mothers.
  • Return to work is associated with high stress, especially for mothers who work full time or are self-employed. This highlights the value of flexible work that enables mothers to manage stress by working part-time, yet stay attached to the labour force.
Publication Details
Access Rights Type:
Motu Working Paper 21-08