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The Returns to Nursing: Evidence from a Parental Leave Program


In this paper, we quantify the effects of nurses on health care delivery and patient health in hospital and nursing home care. Our empirical strategy takes advantage of a parental-leave program in Denmark, which led to a sharp and persistent 10% reduction in nurse employment. Combining rich administrative micro-data on program eligibility of employees and patient health records, we find detrimental effects on hospital-care delivery as indicated by an increase in 30-day readmission rates and a distortion of technology utilization. We find no evidence for an increase in hospital mortality. In contrast, we estimate a persistent 13% increase in nursing-home mortality among the elderly aged 85 and older. Taken together, our findings point to higher returns of nursing on patient welfare in nursing home care. Our results also highlight an unintended negative consequence of parental-leave programs borne by providers and patients.


Working Paper


Benjamin Friedrich, Martin Hackmann

Date Published



Friedrich, Benjamin, and Martin Hackmann. 2017. The Returns to Nursing: Evidence from a Parental Leave Program.


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