Tishra Beeson (Public Health)
Of 41 developed countries, the United States is the only one that does not have federal paid parental leave. Consequently, families across the United States face the financial burden of pregnancy with the limited support of their state policies. This is especially true for those expecting during the COVID-19 pandemic, who have lost wages and benefits from their employer and from that of their partner. This puts them at increased risk for food insecurity, depression, anxiety, and other chronic diseases. This study aims to identify intended paid leave utilization of expecting mothers before and during the pandemic and investigate trends in these rates based on demographic factors. 443 expecting mothers across the Unites States were surveyed about their demographics, intentions to utilize paid leave benefits, and experiences in pregnancy. Data was analyzed with descriptive and inferential statistics, paired T-tests, chi-square and Pearson correlation analyses, and logistic regression models. When accounting for age, race, ethnicity, education and household size, analysis of the data showed statistical significance in the relationships between utilization of any type of leave and household income, publicly funded insurance, and prenatal depression. We can conclude that intention to utilize any type of benefit was lower during the height of the pandemic, and that the rates of reported benefit utilization are highest in highly educated, higher income, privately insured women. While more investigation is needed into the temporality of these findings, we can begin to identify populations who are most in need of more substantial paid parental leave benefits.
Keywords: Pregnancy, COVID-19, Paid Leave