What does paid maternity leave for informal workers cost?

  • News
  • 12 Feb. 2022

Policymakers can find out how much it will cost each year, in terms of GDP, to provide paid maternity leave – via cash transfers – to informally employed workers, with a costing methodology just tested in Brazil and Ghana.

According to this study published in the International Journal for Equity in Health ('Estimating the costs for implementing a maternity leave cash transfer program for women employed in the informal sector in Brazil and Ghana'), protecting informal employees with paid maternity leave is a fraction of a percent of GDP:

  • In Brazil the annual cost of the maternity cash transfer would be between 0.004% and 0.02% of GDP
  • In Ghana the annual cost of the maternity cash transfer would be between 0.076% and 0.28% of GDP

(The difference in costs between countries is due to differences in labor market structure and demographic characteristics.)

Why are cash transfers important for informal employees? Unlike their formally employed counterparts who receive maternity protection, informally employed women and their infants face health, developmental and nutrition risks by working too late into pregnancy and returning to work too soon after childbirth. Paid maternity leave has also been linked to better breastfeeding outcomes – both exclusive breastfeeding in a child’s first six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years of age.

This costing methodology uses a standardised approach based on readily available data for reliable, transparent results. It has also been successfully tested in Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines.  

We are grateful to the researchers for their work and proud for the chance to support it. 

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