How Paternity Leave Helps Families and the Economy

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

As we come to grips with an economy with radical new rules — or no rules at all — we have to think about throwing out traditional ways of thinking about jobs. We also need to think about new models for making job invention happen and bringing under-utilized resources into play.

Some countries make job invention easier. Some countries where workers are used to working around obstacles in their path acquire a kind of entrepreneur muscle. We'll be focusing on some of those places over the next few weeks.

Catherine Rampell, economics reporter for our partner The New York Times, wrote a piece for this Sunday's New York Times Magazine that profiles the success of Canada in boosting its economy by incentivizing paternity leave.

Rampell explains Quebec’s innovative parental leave policy, saying, “They have set aside a few weeks of parental leave that can only be taken by dads. Usually, for countries that have some paid parental leave program, either parent can take it and they can divide it among them. In Quebec, as in a couple of other countries, the way it works is dads can only take a certain portion of that and moms can only take a certain portion of that.” There is a built in incentive for fathers to take this leave because if they don’t, they are basically leaving money on the table because they can’t shift it over to the mother.

The goal of the program is to get fathers more involved in the childcare and other household work for their families. Even though they were eligible for numerous work-life accommodations before, it was predominantly women who were taking them. According to Rampell, a new study found that, "After the introduction of this paternity leave quota, fathers spent more time in childcare and other domestic tasks, particularly domestic tasks like cooking. And mothers interestingly spent more than an hour a day more in paid work.”

Rampell explains why the policy has had such an effect on gender roles and household labor and paid work for several years: “You mentioned giving the mom more time to think about how she wants to structure her life. The other thing is it changes expectations and habits. It probably changes the comfort level for many dads and their skill level."


Catherine Rampell

Comments [3]

RAOUL ORNELAS from Bend, Oregon

The State of Alaska has had a great maternity leave policy for twenty or more years. Alaska provides two weeks off when a child is born. I used it twice - its a great program.

Apr. 03 2013 01:38 PM
LeeAnn Morgan from Orlando FL

I am a veterinarian with two small children. In order to take maternity leave I used my entire year of paid vacation 13 days and then supplemented with savings to take a total of 8 weeks. I came back to work sooner than I was ready out of necessity. In a profession dominated by women you would think that it would be more sympathetic to the concerns of work/family life issues. A few months after my second child was born I changed jobs finding a practice that was more supportive of my life as a mother. With this change I find myself to be a better veterinarian and mother.

Apr. 03 2013 12:47 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I pick up the kids every day after school. There is a group of us men, who now pick up their kids every day. Our women are working and we are collecting ideas of how to get out of going to other kids birthday parties on the weekends.

Apr. 03 2013 12:01 PM

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