Father’s use of parental leave:What do we know

April 2013 UNU; 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 op-
tion does not lead to a marked increase in the number of male users.
There is evidence that incentives in the policy design, such as earmark-
ing 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 typ-
ically 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 di erence in a parenting couple’s earnings for fathers’ use of par-
ental 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 enterprise
are similarly important.

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