Working paper 2010:3 Publicerad 2010-12-01

What are the effects of reforms promoting fathers' parental leave use?

Since the introduction of parental leave in Sweden a more gender-­equal division of such leave has been targeted. To this end, a number of strategies have been applied, and three major reforms have been introduced. In 1995 one month was reserved for each parent, implying that the month was forfeited if not used by the same parent. The reservation of one month was followed by another month in 2002. In 2008, a gender equality bonus was introduced, meaning that tax credits were given to parents who shared the leave equally

This study investigates and compares the effects of these reforms on the division of parental leave. The comparison is made by means of a natural experiment approach, using control and treatment groups with parents of children born just before and after the introduction of each reform. We use register data from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency in which parental leave use by all parents residing in Sweden is included. The results indicate a strong effect from the first reserved month, a more modest but clear effect from the second reserved month and, so far, no effect from the gender equality bonus.