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Abstract: One aim of family leaves is to help mothers combine paid
work and childcare, yet longer leaves have been shown to weaken women's labour
market positions. Moreover, longer leaves can have differential effects across
population groups. This study compares the consequences of longer family leaves
for single and partnered mothers’ labour market outcomes as measured by
unemployment and earnings. We use Finnish register data for 1989 to 2014 to
interact mothers’ partnership status with the accumulated family leave length.
To consider selection into being a single mother, we compare estimates from OLS
and FE models. The results indicate that longer leaves are positively
associated with post-leave unemployment in both groups but more strongly among
single mothers. Longer leaves are linked to similar lower annual earnings among
both single and partnered mothers. We conclude that longer family leaves
disproportionately disadvantage single mothers’ employment chances,
highlighting the heterogeneity of consequences. These disadvantages are not due
to selection into single motherhood, suggesting potential discrimination or
work-family reconciliation problems.