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The political economy of child-related leave policies in OECD member states: key trends and the impact


  • Olivier Thévenon



Abstract: A widespread expansion of leave entitlements has taken place over the past decades in OECD countries. Basic rights, set initially for mothers, have been complementedwith entitlements for both parents. This considerably prolonged the time period covered byparental leave entitlements, of which mothers remain the main users. As a consequence, cross-national differences in leave duration increased until the late 1990s, but they havedecreased slightly since the early 2000s without radically changing the picture. Yet, one main change has occurred with the provision of father-specific rights granted in a growing numberof countries. The effect of the recession has been quite limited, since cutbacks in leave-related benefits have observed up to now in a minority of countries. Against this background, weanalyse the effect of economic and political factors on the prolongation of maternity and parental leave, as well as on the provision of father-specific entitlements. We show that thedifferent types of leave respond differently to these factors, which suggests that a different rationale guides their respective evolution. Finally, we discuss the merits of the greaterflexibility introduced in the legislation of parental leave systems.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Thévenon, 2014. "The political economy of child-related leave policies in OECD member states: key trends and the impact," Working Papers 208, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
  • Handle: RePEc:idg:wpaper:208

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