Parental Leave and Family Satisfaction: Does a Change Towards a More Egalitarian Division of Labor within the Family Lead to Increased Satisfaction?

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Julia INGENFELD, University of Toronto, Canada
In 2007, Germany introduced a parental leave reform that aimed at increasing both mothers’ participation in the labor market as well as fathers’ uptake of parental leave. This study investigates whether those changes led to an increased satisfaction with family life since parents affected by the reform can choose their division of labor more freely. For this purpose, the reform is used as a natural experiment in the form of a regression-discontinuity design in order to examine the relationship in a causal manner. Past research has shown that the reform has indeed had the incentivized behavioral consequences: First, mothers who benefitted from the reform show a faster re-entry into the labor market after giving birth. Second, father’s take-up rate of parental leave increased significantly. However, my analyses suggest that the reform did not lead to increased satisfaction with family life: On the contrary, fathers of children born shortly after the reform was introduced show less satisfaction with their family life compared to fathers of children born shortly before the reform. Mothers’ family satisfaction, on the other hand, does not seem to be impacted by the reform. These findings are supported by a broad range of robustness tests.