For better educated fathers taking parental leave, there was a slight improvement in school performance on the part of the children 15 years later.
What changes took place when this happened? Working with my colleagues, Sara Cools and Lars Johannessen Kirkebøen, we compared children born just before the change in legal leave entitlement with children born just after.
There was a slight improvement in school performance on the part of the children 15 years later, particularly in families where the father had more education than the mother. The change did however not appear to have caused parents to specialize less in line with traditional gender roles.. Fathers’ earnings and working hours did not change, nor did mothers’ earning or attachment to the labour market.
We did not so much expect paternity leave itself to affect child outcomes directly, but rather by causing a change in parental behavior with long-term effects. For example, fathers might be more likely to help with homework as the child grows older if they have been actively participating in childcare during the child’s first year, strengthening the bond between father and child. If the father is more educated than the mother this could result in additional support for the child’s learning.
Our paper was recently awarded the Scandinavian Journal of Economics prize for best paper in 2015.
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