By Melissa Etehad and Jeremy C.F. Lin

Roger-Mark De Souza, who leads programs on reproductive and maternal health at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank, says part of the reason for Europe’s history of offering paid maternal leave dates back to World War II. Because of mass casualties and ruined infrastructure, there was a need to both integrate women into the workforce and also encourage families to have children. As a result, offering paid maternal leave policies created job security for mothers, thereby promoting economic growth, according to a 2014 study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research .

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