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Can public policy increase paternity acknowledgement? Evidence from earnings-related parental leave

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  • Raute, Anna
  • Weber, Andrea
  • Zudenkova, Galina

Abstract

A child's family structure is a fundamental determinant of future well-being, making it essential to understand how public policies affect the involvement of fathers. In this paper, we exploit a reform of the German parental leave system - which increased mother's income and reduced legal father's financial support burden - to measure the impact on the relationship contract choices of parents who were unmarried at conception. Based on detailed birth record data, we demonstrate that short-run reform incentives during the first period after birth nudge unmarried fathers into the long-term commitment of acknowledging paternity. This shift reduces single motherhood by 6% but leaves the share of marriages at birth constant. Moreover, the change in relationship contract choices is mostly driven by parents of boys. These findings are compatible with predictions from a model where parents choose between three types of relationship contracts based on the mother's and father's incomes and support obligations. Our results highlight the necessity of studying intermediate relationship contracts (i.e., between the extremes of marriage and single motherhood) to improve our understanding of potential risk groups among the rising number of children growing up outside of marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Raute, Anna & Weber, Andrea & Zudenkova, Galina, 2022. "Can public policy increase paternity acknowledgement? Evidence from earnings-related parental leave," CEPR Discussion Papers 17073, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:17073
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Family structure; paid parental leave; paternity establishment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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