Paternity and Parental Leave for Fathers to Promote Greater Domestic Work and Care Equality: A Global View

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Rudy SEWARD, University of North Texas, USA
Michael RUSH, School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland
Support is nearly universal worldwide for fathers to become more involved with and responsible for domestic work to enhance the balance between employment and family for parents. Pressure groups and legislatures have pushed for employment leave options to promote opportunities for involved fathering with children and more equality between fathering and mothering. Employment leave for fathers lags behind leave available for mothers. A recent analysis by UCLA’s World Policy Analysis Center from the Adult Labor Database for 186 countries found that all but 8 provided some paid maternity leave to women. The United States remains the only advanced capitalistic country that does not mandate paid leave for mothers (or fathers) of newborns. Although not the majority, 81 of these 186 countries extended paid leave to new fathers through paternity leave or parental leave or a combination of these. The majority of these countries (61) pay fathers at least 75 percent of their wages for at least part of leave taken. Evidence is mounting from Sweden and Japan that fathers taking leave, and for longer periods, increase their involvement with children, shared more equally in housework and childcare with mothers, and obtained the best balance between paid work and family. These fathers are exceptions as changes in fatherhood in the direction of expecting greater family involvement has yet to be matched by substantial changes in fathering in most countries. History, tradition, economy, and geography for each country are important factors that affect current status plus amount and rate of change. Differences in fathering in advanced capitalist countries appear to be increasingly mediated by the availability of father and family-friendly social policies and programs. Promotion of employment leave along with shortened work hours, flextime, and autonomy in work hours and workloads for fathers should contribute to greater domestic work and care equality.