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Why Daddy Doesn’t Do it: Paternal Leave Effects on the Wage Distribution

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posted on 26.11.2018, 14:37 by Kathrin Morosow, Lynn Prince Cooke
Despite the expansion of well-paid paternal leave in Finland, fathers take on average far less leave than mothers and there are significant differences in leave take-up among fathers. All fathers fear economic penalties for taking leave, with high-wage fathers in particular worrying about long-term career repercussions. To assess whether these fears are valid, and whether policies that more strongly encourage fathers’ leave reduce its economic consequences, we analyze 1995 to 2011 waves of Finnish register-based data and compare the impact of taking parental leave on fathers’ wage distribution before and after the 2003 introduction of a “father’s month.” Fixed-effects unconditional quantile regression results reveal that taking leave predicts lower wages only among fathers at the bottom of the wage distribution, both before and after the reform. We conclude that even more progressive family policies thus far fail to address the greater economic barriers to care among the least-advantaged fathers.


The European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 680958, L. P. Cooke, PI).

The Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland (Decision Number 293103) for the research consortium Tackling Inequality in Time of Austerity.

Financial support for a research visit was received from the European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR).




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