More evidence in favour of increasing paternity leave.

A few weeks back, the Economist had an article explaining the benefits of paternity leave.

It highlighted three impacts of men taking paternity leave:

  1. Men who took paternity leave were more likely to take an active role in child care tasks.
  2. This had long-term benefits on the child’s learning abilities.
  3. Paternity leave benefits women’s careers.

The first impacts, as an economist, is a bit nonsense, but the second two are instructive.

On the first, it’s likely that some other factor(s) is causing fathers to take paternity leave and be active in the child’s care. Those factors are likely to be the man’s own preference, ie he’s the type of guy that is interested in spending time with his kid and helping out his wife, both just afte birth and later. He also likely lives in a society that encourages (through policy and through society) men to play an active role as a father. This suggests paternity leave isn’t the cause of willingness to take a more active role later, but rather that both are determined by similar factors.

On the second, the point isn’t that men taking paternity leave matters to outcomes, but men’s ability to take leave matters. Richer men tend to take longer leave becuase they can afford it, and this benefits their children. This suggests that longer paid leave should be available to all men so that all children benefit.

As for the benefits to women, I’ve written about it before.

Today, research from the Centre of Economic Performance at LSE shows that legislative changes to increase paternity leave has helped close the gender wage gap in exporting firms.

Increasing paternity leave helps women at work, it helps women at home, and it helps children in the long-run.

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