Three Years Maternity Leave

by Patrick Appel

There's a lot that I don't necessarily agree with in this post by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry. But this bit piqued by interest:

Germany has very generous parental leave policies. Women get a full year of paid maternal leave, which they can extend to three years of “educational” leave. Employers are mandated to retake these working mothers in the same position after they leave. And my wife was told that German mothers are culturally strongly encouraged to take the full three years’ leave if you don’t, you are likely to be frowned upon. ...

I have no data but I suspect these strong pro-early maternity policies discourage hiring women. My feminist wife herself exclaimed over dinner after returning from Germany: “If I was a German employer, I probably wouldn’t hire a woman for an important job!” A lot of working mothers, if it’s possible, will not in fact return to the work force at the end of their three years leave. A lot more will work only in the morning, and fetch their kids from school at lunchtime. By the end of their first three years leave, many German mothers are understandably pregnant again: childrearing happens late in Europe, and if you start having kids in your 30s and you want more than one, you’re going to have them close together. After 6 years out of the workforce, women will be loth to return and/or find their career prospects tragically but logically damaged.

Does anyone have good data on this?