A Map of Maternity Leave Policies Around the World

The U.S. is one of only a handful of countries that does not require some form of paid time off for new mothers.
World Policy Forum

If you're a woman working in the United States and your employer provides paid maternity leave, consider yourself lucky: Just 11 percent of Americans employed by private industry have access to some sort of paid family leave. For state and government employees, 16 percent can take paid family leave. The U.S. federal government provides no paid family leave to its employees, though they can use their sick days or vacation days that they've saved up.

This state of affairs places America in a very small group: countries that neither provide new parents with some sort of Social Security-esque benefit nor require that businesses pay their employees even a portion of their normal salaries. According to the map above, the U.S. is joined by Suriname and Papua New Guinea. It is the lone developed nation with this status.

Why? As Tanya Basu wrote in The Atlantic earlier this week, a bill that would provide 12 weeks of paid maternity leave is stalled in the House, where it has received "broad support from Democrats" but not a single Republican backer, despite polls that find such a policy to be hugely popular with voters across partisan lines. 

And that means that, as far as the map above is concerned, America's color won't be changing any time soon.

 

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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