Estimating the costs for implementing a maternity leave cash transfer program for women employed in the informal sector in Brazil and Ghana

Grace Carroll, Mireya Vilar-Compte, Graciela Teruel, Meztli Moncada, David Aban-Tamayo, Heitor Werneck, Ricardo Montes de Moraes, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Maternity leave policies are designed to protect gender equality and the health of mothers in the workforce and their children. However, maternity leave schemes are often linked to jobs in the formal sector economy. In low- and middle-income countries a large share of women work in the informal sector, and are not eligible to such benefit. This is worrisome from a social justice and a policy perspective and suggests the need for intervening. Costing the implementation of potential interventions is needed for facilitating informed decisions by policy makers. Methods: We developed and applied a costing methodology to assess the cost of a maternity leave cash transfer to be operated in the informal sector of the economy in Brazil and Ghana, two countries with very different employment structures and socioeconomic contexts. We conducted sensitivity analysis by modeling different numbers of weeks covered. Results: In Brazil, the cost of the maternity cash transfer would be between 0.004% and 0.02% of the GDP, while in Ghana it would range between 0.076% and 0.28% of the GDP. The relative cost of rolling out a maternity intervention in Brazil is between 2.2 to 3.2 times the cost in Ghana depending on the benchmark used to assess the welfare measure. The differences in costs between countries was related to differences in labor market structure as well as demographic characteristics. Conclusions: Findings show how a standard methodology that relies on routinely available information is feasible and could assist policymakers in estimating the costs of supporting a maternity cash transfer for women employed in the informal sector, such intervention is expected to contribute to social justice, gender equity, and health trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Brazil
  • Ghana
  • breastfeeding
  • costing
  • informal sector
  • maternity cash transfer
  • maternity leave


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