Long-term effects of reforms promoting fathers' parental leave use

Mats Johansson, Swedish Social Insurance Inspectorate
Ann-Zofie Duvander, Stockholm University

Since the introduction of the parental leave in Sweden a more gender-equal division of the leave has been aimed for. Several reforms have been introduced to reach this goal. In 1995 one month was reserved for each parent, implying that the month was forfeited if not used by the same parent. The reservation of one month was followed by another month in 2002. Although the main goal of these reforms was to promote fathers' use of parental leave, there were also expectations that the reforms would have long-term effects on the division of household work and on gender equality in the labour market. Also, there are studies that imply that the risk for separation is lower and the continued childbearing is higher in couples who share the leave. This study uses a natural experiment-approach, using control and treatment groups with parents’ to children born just before and after the introduction of each reform to investigate the potential long-term effects of each reform. Parents are followed for eight years after each reform and we focus on four outcomes; the use of temporary parental leave for care of a sick child; yearly earnings of the parents; risk for separation, and continued childbearing. We use register data from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency including parental leave use of all parents residing in Sweden. The preliminary results indicate effects of the reforms on the use of temporary parental leave benefit as well as on third birth intensities.

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Presented in Session 12: Thematic session: Social policy effects on family behavior