Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers in Economics,
University of Bergen, Department of Economics

No 13/18: Paternity Leave and Family Outcomes

Signe A. Abrahamsen ()
Additional contact information
Signe A. Abrahamsen: University of Bergen, Department of Economics, Postal: Institutt for økonomi, Universitetet i Bergen, Postboks 7802, 5020 Bergen, Norway

Abstract: The received literature documents that reserving parental leave time for fathers has been effective in increasing fathers’ use of parental leave. However, whether paternity leave affects the families’ decisions in any other way is still not clear. This paper exploits reforms extending the Norwegian father quota as natural experiments, and estimates causal effects of a more substantial length of paternity leave than previously studied. We find that fathers extend their leave use as more leave days are reserved for them. Yet, there is no evidence that extended parental leave use by fathers alters the traditional gender norms at home. Specifically, we find no effects on parents’ earnings or working hours, which suggests no shift from market work to home production by fathers, nor a shift in the other direction by mothers. To measure parents’ involvement at home, we look at absence from work due to own illness, as well as a child’s illness. These measures are both unaffected by extended leave use by fathers. Moreover, there is no evidence that extended parental leave use by fathers contributes to narrowing the gender gap in income. However, extending the father-exclusive leave period comes at a non-negligible cost to the society. Taken together, this points to the conclusion that continuing expansions of the father quota needs to be justified by arguments other than the commonly used claim, that the father quota works as a policy instrument for gender equality.

Keywords: Paternity leave; father quotas; gender equality; policy evaluation

JEL-codes: D13; H31; J13; J16; J18; J22

50 pages, August 21, 2018

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