Submission Date


Document Type



International Relations


Rebecca Evans

Committee Member

Scott King

Committee Member

Juan-Ramón de Arana

Department Chair

Rebecca Evans

Project Description

The expansion of female labor force participation has a strong, positive effect on economic growth. Maternity leave policies aim to support women’s employment continuity through a reduction of labor tradeoffs. Variation in maternity leave policies between countries spotlights the effect of maternity leave on female labor force participation, as shown in a comparison of countries in Southern Europe. This thesis provides an empirical analysis of maternity leave policy and female labor force participation rates in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece. After the empirical study, the thesis analyzes changes in gender equality policies and women’s labor force participation in Spain, beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing to the present day. This case study allows for closer examination of the effect of expanded maternity leave on female labor force participation rate over time. The empirical analysis highlights the statistically significant impact of the length of maternity leave and wage replacement rate on female labor force participation rate. Findings from this research suggest that policy makers should work to expand maternity leave policy to support a strong female labor force. Moreover, the research supports the future adoption of more extensive international mandates to encourage countries to extend their policies, as highlighted in the Spanish case study.