Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Bulletin of the World Health Organization


Objective To develop a method to assess the cost of extending the duration of maternity leave for formally-employed women at the national level and apply it in Brazil, Ghana and Mexico. Methods We adapted a World Bank costing method into a five-step method to estimate the costs of extending the length of maternity leave mandates. Our method used the unit cost of maternity leave based on working women’s weekly wages; the number of additional weeks of maternity leave to be analysed for a given year; and the weighted population of women of reproductive and legal working age in a given country in that year. We weighted the population by the probability of having a baby that year among women in formal employment, according to individual characteristics. We applied nationally representative cross-sectional data from fertility, employment and population surveys to estimate the costs of maternity leave for mothers employed in the formal sector in Brazil, Ghana and Mexico for periods from 12 weeks up to 26 weeks, the WHO target for exclusive breastfeeding. Findings We estimated that 640 742 women in Brazil, 33 869 in Ghana and 288 655 in Mexico would require formal maternity leave annually. The median weekly cost of extending maternity leave for formally working women was purchasing power parity international dollars (PPP$) 195.07 per woman in Brazil, PPP$ 109.68 in Ghana and PPP$ 168.83 in Mexico. Conclusion Our costing method could facilitate evidence-based policy decisions across countries to improve maternity protection benefits and support breastfeeding.



Published Citation

Vilar-Compte, Mireya, Graciela M. Teruel, Diana Flores-Peregrina, Grace J. Carroll, Gabriela S. Buccini, and Rafael Perez-Escamilla. "Costos de la licencia de maternidad para apoyar la lactancia materna en Brasil, Ghana y México." Bulletin of the World Health Organization 98, no. 6 (2020): 382-393.