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


  • Maria 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

  • Maria 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

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    Cited by:

    1. 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).
    2. Unterhofer, Ulrike & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2017. "Fathers, Parental Leave and Gender Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 10712, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Maya Rossin-Slater, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," NBER Working Papers 23069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ulrike Unterhofer & Katharina Wrohlich, 2017. "Fathers, Parental Leave and Gender Norms," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1657, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. repec:ces:ifodic:v:15:y:2017:i:1:p:19307502 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Lídia Farré & Libertad González, 2017. "The Effects of Paternity Leave on Fertility and Labor Market Outcomes," Working Papers 978, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    7. Rossin-Slater, Maya, 2017. "Maternity and Family Leave Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 10500, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. 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.
    9. 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;

    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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