#2013-022 Fathers' use of parental leave. What do we know?
Fathers' use of parental leave. What do we know?
This paper reviews the the literature on fathers' use of parental leave.
Parental leave is a work-life reconciliation instrument with great
potential to bring about a more equal distribution of paid and unpaid
work between men and women. However, policy evaluation studies reveal
that simply making parental leave available to men as an option does not
lead to a marked increase in the number of male users. There is evidence
that incentives in the policy design, such as earmarking part of the
paid parental leave only for men on a use-it-or-lose-it basis, can raise
the number of male users. Still, this evidence comes primarily from the
Scandinavian context and the question whether such outcomes could be
replicated in other countries remains open. Theoretical understanding of
male use of parental leave is usually based on multidisciplinary
frameworks. The economic theories typically focus on the relative
resources in the family and there seems to be an absence of an
integrated framework for analysis at the individual level. Several
empirical studies provide support for the importance of the difference
in a parenting couple's earnings for fathers' use of parental leave.
Socio-economic characteristics, such as age, individual income,
education, marital status, and number of other children, can also play a
role in the decision of men to take leave. Situational factors, such as
the sector of employment, or the size of the enterprize are similarly
Keywords: work-family reconciliation, parental leave, fatherhood
JEL classification: J130, J160