Fathers’ Use of Parental Leave and Union Dissolution

<b>Abstract: </b>With increasing union dissolution and changing gender behaviour, questions have emerged about possible links between gender behaviour and union stability. The aim of this article is to examine whether, and how early, father involvement in child-rearing is associated with union dissolution in three Nordic countries. Our analysis uses father's parental leave as a proxy for his involvement in child-rearing, to show that couples where the father uses parental leave have a lower risk of union dissolution. The pattern is consistent for all countries, for the whole study period 1993-2011, and to cohabiting couples. However, we do not find support for asserting that the couples with greatest gender equality, in terms of fathers taking long leave, are the most stable unions, as the pattern is not uniform in the three countries. Nevertheless, gender equality within the family in the Nordic countries is still an ongoing process, and the relationship between gender behaviour and union stability is still in flux. At this stage, it is clear that policies set up to change gender relations in families do have unintended consequences in terms of greater union stability among couples making use of the policy.