Make us your home page
Instagram

Paternity leave key to helping women in workplace

If you want to create policies that promote women's labor-force participation without curbing their career achievements, you also have to address why family-friendly policies (parental leave, flex work, telecommuting, etc.) aren't being used by men.

True, women earn less than men in most countries, meaning that there's less of an incentive for women to stick with their jobs.

To a large extent, though, those nebulous things known as social norms are probably to blame for the trivial rates at which men take advantage of leave and flex-work policies. These norms are enforced both by workers and their employers, who might look askance at a father who wants to take time off for a birth or a ballet recital.

So, how do you change norms?

In a word (economists' favorite word, to be precise): incentives! And it looks as if the most promising place to dangle those incentives is in paternity leave, as some other countries are discovering.

Sweden and Norway, for example, have recently set aside some weeks of paid parental leave that are available only to fathers. In Germany and Portugal, a mother gets bonus weeks of maternity leave if the child's father takes a minimum amount of paternity leave.

The share of men who choose to go on leave has grown sharply in these countries.

The birth of a newborn is a crucial time for renegotiating a couple's division of labor. Having men spend some time at home after the birth seems to alter (1) expectations and habits; (2) fathers' comfort and skill level with taking care of a child (economists would say there's a "fixed cost" to learning how to change diapers); and (3) potentially the bond between father and baby.

Paternity leave key to helping women in workplace 04/07/13 [Last modified: Sunday, April 7, 2013 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.