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Swedish parental leave and gender equality - Achievements and reform challenges in a European perspective

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  • Duvander, Ann-Zofie

    (Institute for Futures Studies)

  • Ferrarini, Tommy

    ()
    (Stockholm University)

  • Thalberg, Sara

    ()
    (Stockholm University)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Sweden was the first country to introduce paid parental leave also to fathers in 1974, and this legislation has since then continuously been reformed in order to bring about a more equal parenthood. This study sets out to discuss the Swedish parental leave system and identify achievements, policy dilemmas and reform alternatives in a European perspective. The structure of parental insurance legislation, with earnings-related benefits and a long leave period, is often seen as a main explanation why Sweden has been able to combine relatively high fertility levels with high female labour force participation rates and low child poverty. In the perspective of changing demographic structures in Europe, with declining fertility levels and a growing number of elderly, the strengthening of dual earner family policies, including parental insurance legislation, may mitigate macro-economic and demographic problems by increasing gender equality and decreasing the work-family conflict. Despite the positive consequences, unresolved questions exist in the present parental leave legislation. The flexibility of the Swedish system, which still has extensive transferable leave rights, has the consequence that the lion’s share of parental leave days is still taken by mothers, among other things making it difficult for women to compete on equal terms with men in the labour market. Consequently, the gender-based division of parental leave may contribute to a preservation of traditional gender roles and inequalities. Another problem in the Swedish system is the work requirement for eligibility that excludes students and others with weak labour market attachment from the earnings-related benefits, possibly inflicting on the postponement of parenthood. Raising the minimum benefit could be one solution to enable childbearing among persons with weak labour market attachment, but this would also affect the economic incentives for paid work, and thus weaken the dual earner model.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for Futures Studies in its series Arbetsrapport with number 2005:11.

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    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:ifswps:2005_011

    Note: ISSN 1652-120X ISBN 91-89655-69-9
    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Institute for Futures Studies, Box 591, SE-101 31 Stockholm, Sweden
    Phone: 08-402 12 00
    Fax: 08-24 50 14
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    Web page: http://www.framtidsstudier.se
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    Related research

    Keywords: Parental leave; gender equality; reform challenges;

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    References

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    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection And The Origin Of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191, November.
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    4. Palme, Mårten & Svensson, Ingemar, 2002. "Pathways to Retirement and Retirement Incentives in Sweden," Arbetsrapport 2002:9, Institute for Futures Studies.
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    6. Lagerlöf, Nils-Petter, 2001. "From Malthus to Modern Growth: Can Epidemics Explain the Three Regimes?," Arbetsrapport 2001:1, Institute for Futures Studies.
    7. Malmberg, Bo & Lindh, Thomas, 2004. "Forecasting global growth by age structure projections," Arbetsrapport 2004:5, Institute for Futures Studies.
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    10. Christopher J. Ruhm & Jackqueline L. Teague, 1995. "Parental Leave Policies in Europe and North America," NBER Working Papers 5065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ranehill, Eva, 2002. "Social snedrekrytering till högre studier - En litteraturöversikt," Arbetsrapport 2002:10, Institute for Futures Studies.
    12. Wasmer, Etienne, 2002. "Interpreting Europe and US labor markets differences: the specificity of human capital investments," Arbetsrapport 2003:9, Institute for Futures Studies.
    13. Henriette Engelhardt & Alexia Prskawetz, 2002. "On the changing correlation between fertility and female employment over space and time," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-052, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    14. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Spiess, C. Katharina & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2006. "The Parental Leave Benefit Reform in Germany: Costs and Labour Market Outcomes of Moving towards the Scandinavian Model," IZA Discussion Papers 2372, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Brink, Anne & Nordblom, Katarina & Wahlberg, Roger, 2007. "Maximum Fee vs. Child Benefit: A Welfare Analysis of Swedish Child-Care Fee Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 2748, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. C. Spiess & Katharina Wrohlich, 2008. "The Parental Leave Benefit Reform in Germany: Costs and Labour Market Outcomes of Moving towards the Nordic Model," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 27(5), pages 575-591, October.
    4. Gunnar Andersson & Jan M. Hoem & Ann-Zofie Duvander, 2005. "Social differentials in speed-premium effects in childbearing in Sweden," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2005-027, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

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