Gender Gaps and Family Policies in Latin America
By: Estefanía Galván (Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración. Instituto de Economía); Cecilia Parada (Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración. Instituto de Economía); Martina Querejeta (Universidad de la República (Uruguay)); Soledad Salvador (Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre el Desarrollo, Uruguay)
Gender equality in the labor market remains a difficult challenge in Latin America and recent literature shows that child penalties play an important role in explaining these gaps. While policies to address gaps related to parenthood were introduced in recent decades, evidence of its effects is still scarce. This paper presents comparable evidence on the adoption of family legislation in 15 Latin American countries and discusses its relationship with the evolution of the gender labor gaps and the prevailing gender norms. We document that from 2000 to 2019 almost all countries increased the weeks covered by family leaves. Following a similar approach to that of Olivetti and Petrongolo (2017), exploiting the variations over time and controlling for country and year-fixed effects, we find that the extension of maternity and paternity leaves has a positive effect on female employment and contributes to reduce employment gaps, in particular in those countries which departed from a worse situation in terms of family policies coverage and which have more traditional perceptions of gender roles. On the other hand, our results suggest that in countries with more gender egalitarian perceptions, the extension of family leaves contributes to reduce the income gaps.