Fathers with more education more likely to take paternity leave

July 23, 2018 - 06:13

Swedish doctors and lawyers take twice as much parental leave as their less well-educated peers. But the trend is the opposite for well-educated women.

One-quarter of Norwegian men choose not to take paternity leave at all, or just take part of it. (Photo: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock / NTB scanpix)

Swedish men who potentially have the most to lose, both in terms of income and in developing their careers, are also more likely to take paternity leave than their less well-paid and educated peers, according to new research.

Helen Eriksson, a researcher at the Linnaeus Center on Social Policy and Family Dynamics in Europe at Stockholm University, has looked at all parents in Sweden who had their first child in 2009 and who have taken parental leave.

When Eriksson looked at the numbers, she saw that there was a big difference between which groups of men chose to take paternity leave.

The biggest surprise was that doctors, lawyers and others who have more years of education and higher income took an average of 14 weeks of parental leave.

Fathers with jobs with low pay or that don’t require extensive education, such as cleaning staff or machine operators, averaged seven weeks leave on average.

Moms have to work

Well-educated moms weren’t as lucky as their well-educated partners, however. New mothers whose profession requires more education and qualifications took on average six weeks less leave than mothers whose jobs don’t have such demanding requirements.

The higher income a new mother has, the less time she was able to be at home with her newborn.

Many Norwegian men don’t take full advantage of paternity leave

In comparison, the proportion of fathers in Norway who take full advantage of their paternity leave rights is on the increase, according to a 2017 study. Norway gives fathers 15 weeks paid leave if their child was born on or after 1 July 2018. Overall, new parents have the option of taking 49 weeks of leave at 100 per cent pay, or 59 weeks at 80 per cent.

Nevertheless, while more new dads are taking leave, not everyone takes all the time they could take.

In 2014, just 24 per cent of the fathers in Norway who had children that year didn’t take leave at all or only took part of it, researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Social Research have found. Their assessment is based on both registry data and interviews.

Here too, those with less education and low income are overrepresented among those who do not take paternity leave at all or just take a little leave, the researchers found.

But the researchers also found something else interesting: high-income dads in Norway tend not to take parental leave at all.

The same is true for fathers born outside Norway.

Tougher at the top?

A study conducted by the researchers at the Work Research Institute at Oslo Metropolitan University and the Norwegian Institute for Social Research shows that the length of the leave affects the career paths for fathers in elite professions.

Some fathers simply will not take the risk of taking paternity leave.

"Even a short leave reduces the likelihood of becoming senior management for these fathers," Selma Therese Lyng, a senior researcher at Oslo Metropolitan University, told Norway’s national business newspaper, Dagens Næringsliv.

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Read this article in Norwegian at forskning.no

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