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Fathers and Mothers Taking Leave from Paid Work to Care for a Child. Economic Considerations and Occupational Conditions of Work

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posted on 2018-04-03, 10:46 authored by Helen ErikssonHelen Eriksson
Abstract: While most types of unpaid work have become considerably more equally divided over decades, child care that requires leave from paid work is still extremely gender specialized. Understanding conditions of paid work that can make leave-taking for both parents possible is crucial to halt the onset of gender specialization in couples. In this study, Sweden is utilized as a context in which the family policy constellation provides a real opportunity for both fathers’ and mothers’ leave-taking. The number of parental leave weeks taken by the father and the mother in the first two years of the child’s life is analyzed using administrative register data for 29,366 couples having their first child in 2009. Multi-level cross-classified models with each couple nested in 112 father and 111 mother occupations are used to estimate effects of conditions of work that have been hypothesized to hinder fathers’ leave-taking. Career costs, job insecurity and flexibility explained little variation in father leave. The strongest predictor was the father’s occupational skill level, i.e., the higher the skill level required for the occupation, the more leave fathers take. As would be expected from gendered norms and behavior and resulting gendered assumptions of care at the workplace, some of the conditions of work favorable for mothers’ leave-taking are not transferrable to fathers.


Swedish Research Council through the Linnaeus Center for Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe (grant 349-2007-8701) and the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences (SIMSAM): Stockholm University SIMSAM Node for Demographic Research (grant 340-2013-5164).




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