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Fathers' Leave, Fathers' Involvement and Child Development: Are They Related? Evidence from Four OECD Countries


  • María del Carmen Huerta


  • Willem Adema


  • Jennifer Baxter

    (Australian Institute of Family Studies)

  • Wen-Jui Han

    (New York University)

  • Mette Lausten

    (Danish National Institute of Social Research)

  • RaeHyuck Lee

    (Columbia University)

  • Jane Waldfogel

    (Columbia University)


Previous research has shown that fathers taking some time off work around childbirth, especially periods of leave of 2 or more weeks, are more likely to be involved in childcare related activities than fathers who do not do so. Furthermore, evidence suggests that children with fathers who are ‘more involved’ perform better during the early years than their peers with less involved fathers. This paper analyses data of four OECD countries — Australia; Denmark; United Kingdom; United States — to describe how leave policies may influence father’s behaviours when children are young and whether their involvement translates into positive child cognitive and behavioural outcomes. This analysis shows that fathers’ leave, father’s involvement and child development are related. Fathers who take leave, especially those taking two weeks or more, are more likely to carry out childcare related activities when children are young. This study finds some evidence that children with highly involved fathers tend to perform better in terms of cognitive test scores. Evidence on the association between fathers’ involvement and behavioural outcomes was however weak. When data on different types of childcare activities was available, results suggest that the kind of involvement matters. These results suggest that what matters is the quality and not the quantity of father-child interactions.

Suggested Citation

  • María del Carmen Huerta & Willem Adema & Jennifer Baxter & Wen-Jui Han & Mette Lausten & RaeHyuck Lee & Jane Waldfogel, 2013. "Fathers' Leave, Fathers' Involvement and Child Development: Are They Related? Evidence from Four OECD Countries," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 140, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:140-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5k4dlw9w6czq-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Farré, Lídia & González, Libertad, 2019. "Does paternity leave reduce fertility?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 52-66.
    2. Claire Samtleben & Julia Bringmann & Mareike Bünning & Lena Hipp, 2019. "What Helps and What Hinders? Exploring the Role of Workplace Characteristics for Parental Leave Use and Its Career Consequences," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 8(10), pages 1-30, September.
    3. Julia Bachtrögler & Julia Bock-Schappelwein & Paul Eckerstorfer & Peter Huber & Christine Mayrhuber & Mark Sommer & Gerhard Streicher, 2019. "Wachstumsfaktor Gleichstellung. Der ökonomische Nutzen von Gender Budgeting in Wien," WIFO Studies, WIFO, number 65741.
    4. Abrahamsen, Signe A., 2018. "Paternity Leave and Family Outcomes," Working Papers in Economics 13/18, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    5. Sharon Lerner & Eileen Appelbaum, 2014. "Business As Usual: New Jersey Employers’ Experiences with Family Leave Insurance," CEPR Reports and Issue Briefs 2014-12, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).
    6. Ulrike Unterhofer & Katharina Wrohlich, 2017. "Fathers, Parental Leave and Gender Norms," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1657, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Leen Marynissen & Eleonora Mussino & Jonas Wood & Ann-Zofie Duvander, 2019. "Fathers’ Parental Leave Uptake in Belgium and Sweden: Self-Evident or Subject to Employment Characteristics?," Social Sciences, MDPI, vol. 8(11), pages 1-21, November.
    8. Inés Berniell & Lucila Berniell & Dolores de la Mata & María Edo & Mariana Marchionni, 2021. "Motherhood and flexible jobs," Working Papers 93, Red Nacional de Investigadores en Economía (RedNIE).
    9. Maya Rossin-Slater, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," NBER Working Papers 23069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Müller, Kai-Uwe & Neumann, Michael & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2018. "The family working-time model: Towards more gender equality in work and care," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 28(5), pages 471-486.
    11. Barreto, Florencia Belén & Sánchez de Miguel, Manuel & Ibarluzea, Jesús & Andiarena, Ainara & Arranz, Enrique, 2017. "Family context and cognitive development in early childhood: A longitudinal study," Intelligence, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 11-22.
    12. Ashlee Borgkvist & Vivienne Moore & Shona Crabb & Jaklin Eliott, 2021. "Critical considerations of workplace flexibility “for all” and gendered outcomes: Men being flexible about their flexibility," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(6), pages 2076-2090, November.
    13. Sophie Hennekam & Jasmine Kelland & Jean‐Pierre Dumazert, 2023. "Paternal supervisor gatekeeping: How supervising fathers hinder other fathers at work in their uptake of flexible work arrangements," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(1), pages 94-111, January.
    14. Petteri Eerola & Johanna Lammi-Taskula & Margaret O’Brien & Johanna Hietamäki & Eija Räikkönen, 2019. "Fathers’ Leave Take-Up in Finland: Motivations and Barriers in a Complex Nordic Leave Scheme," SAGE Open, , vol. 9(4), pages 21582440198, October.
    15. repec:ces:ifodic:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:19307502 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Libertad González Luna & Lidia Farré, 2017. "The effects of paternity leave on fertility and labor market outcomes," Economics Working Papers 1572, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    17. Clara Albrecht & Anita Fichtl & Peter Redler & Anita Dietrich, 2017. "Fathers in Charge? Parental Leave Policies for Fathers in Europe," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(01), pages 49-51, April.
    18. Jamie Atkinson, 2022. "Involved fatherhood and the workplace context: A new theoretical approach," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(3), pages 845-862, May.
    19. Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 10500, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Ariane Pailhé & Anne Solaz & Maxime Tô, 2018. "Can daddies learn how to change nappies? Evidence from a short paternity leave policy," Working Papers 240, French Institute for Demographic Studies.
    21. Kai-Uwe Müller & Michael Neumann & Katharina Wrohlich, 2016. "The Family Working Time Model - Toward More Gender Equality in Work and Care," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1603, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    22. Joyce J Endendijk & Marleen G Groeneveld & Marian J Bakermans-Kranenburg & Judi Mesman, 2016. "Gender-Differentiated Parenting Revisited: Meta-Analysis Reveals Very Few Differences in Parental Control of Boys and Girls," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(7), pages 1-33, July.
    23. Clara Albrecht & Anita Fichtl & Peter Redler, 2017. "Fathers in Charge? Parental Leave Policies for Fathers in Europe," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(1), pages 49-51, 04.

    More about this item


    Australia; behavioural problems; birth cohort studies; cognitive development; Denmark; fathers’ involvement; parental leave; paternity leave; United Kingdom; United States;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • 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
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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