Does breastfeeding support at work help both mothers and employers?

Del Bono, E, Pronzato, CD (2012) Does breastfeeding support at work help mothers and employers at the same time? ISER Working Paper Series, No. 2012-06

http://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/65922/1/689516282.pdf

Using data from the 2005 UK Infant Feeding Survey on a sample of women who returned to work before their child was one year old, this research paper found that the availability of breastfeeding facilities at their workplace was associated with higher breastfeeding rates at four and six months after the birth of the child.

The main findings of the study were:

  • The availability of breastfeeding facilities at work was positively associated with the probability of working at four and six months after the birth of the child, resulting in a shorter duration of maternity leave.
  • If a breastfeeding woman was offered facilities to breastfeed at work, the probability that she would be working at four months after birth would increase by 3.3% overall, and 4.8% for higher educated women (who left school at 19 or older).
  • At six months, making breastfeeding facilities available to all breastfeeding mothers was associated with an increased probability of working of 7.5%, which is largely driven by an increase in the employment rate of higher educated mothers of 11%.

These effects are large in magnitude and reflect a reduction in the length of maternity leave due to the provision of breastfeeding facilities.