Monday, July 09, 2007

Preconceived Notions

I’m back from a break in writing, although I still need to take a real life vacation from my day job. Moving on to today’s topic.

I realized that unless people stop vehemently stating “I don’t care what science/statistics say,” or our elected governments stop continuously building up their nanny stature, we’re going to get papers like this from Michael Baker and Kevin Milligan; papers that continuously seek looking at the efficiency of the government’s assistant programs. Milligan and Baker’s paper is entitled “Maternal employment, breastfeeding, and health: Evidence from maternity leave mandates.”

The takeaway:

We uncover several interesting and relevant findings. First, there was a substantial increase in the number of months mothers were away from work post-birth; more than three months for those eligible for leave. Second, breastfeeding duration increased sharply, with significant increases in the proportion of mothers attaining public health breastfeeding benchmarks including six months exclusive breastfeeding. Finally, we find little effect of the increase in breastfeeding (and parental care) on self-reported indicators of the mother and child (in the first 24 months) health captured in the NLSCY.

My point is that when you hear someone express that “This preschool is the best,” or that breastfeeding is so important, remember that it’s okay to ask, “Says who?”

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