Assistant Professor of Economics Tanya Byker researches labor and development economics.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury College economist Tanya Byker will study the long-term effects of California’s 2004 Paid Family Leave Act as the principal investigator on a $75,000 project funded by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

The study will be the first-ever longitudinal analysis of the effects that paid family leave insurance has on employment, earnings, fertility, and other impacts, and it comes at a time when many states are debating paid family leave policies.

Byker, an assistant professor of economics, and Martha Bailey, a professor of economics at the University of Michigan, will use IRS tax records to examine how the Paid Family Leave Act influenced the labor market over time for women and men in California. And because they are using administrative data, the researchers will have an extremely large sample size, which will allow for potentially more conclusive data than any previous studies to date.

Byker and Bailey’s proposal was one of 24 granted in 2018 by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth to economists and other social scientists conducting research on the channels through which economic inequality affects economic growth and stability. The organization supports research into human capital and the labor market, innovation, macroeconomics, and how institutions, including government, affect inequality and growth.

The non-profit Washington Center is especially interested in research that uses government data or innovative data sources to shed light on important economic questions. Over the past five years it has awarded more than $3.8 million in grants to gain a deeper understanding of the role that public policy plays in promoting strong, stable, and broad-based economic growth.

Tanya Byker joined the Middlebury faculty in 2014, and her research focuses on the choices individuals make about education, employment, and parenthood.