Does earmarked paternity leave shape gender norms?
To what extent does earmarked leave affect parental norms, preferences and attitudes towards gender equality? Does earmarked leave alleviate non-standard constrains such as concerns about breaking social norms and perceived career costs of leave? And will earmarked leave impose costs on parents due to, e.g., less flexibility in the parental leave system?
Despite considerable progress over the past decades, women still earn significantly less than men. Research has shown that children are a key reason for the remaining gender wage gap, as the arrival of children has large, negative and persistent effects on the career trajectory of women, but not men.
These facts have created a broad push for policies that change gender norms and increase fathers' role in child rearing. Central among such policies is earmarked parental leave with the recent EU directive that requires all member states to implement at least 9 weeks of earmarked leave by August 2022 as a salient example. The results from this project will shed light on the success of this policy agenda and inform the debate on the cost and benefits of earmarked parental leave.
In this project, we ask whether public policies can affect norms in society. Traditionally, economists have analyzed public policies almost exclusively through their effect on (economic) incentives, but in the context of child rearing, incentives appear to explain only a minor part of the behavior of parents. Indeed, earmarked leave is explicitly motivated as a tool to change and overcome traditional gender norms in society.
Hence, we ask to what extent earmarked leave affects parental norms, preferences and attitudes towards gender equality in the short and long run? Whether earmarked leave alleviates non-standard constrains such as concerns about breaking social norms and perceived career costs of leave? And whether earmarked leave imposes costs on parents due to, e.g., less flexibility in the parental leave system?
The coming Pan-European introduction of earmarked leave creates a unique window of opportunity to answer the above questions, and to understand whether earmarked leave can reduce the remaining gender wage gap. Having advance knowledge of a reform of this size enables us to set up and collect systematic evidence on norms, beliefs and perceptions of parents through a set of surveys running continuously across the implementation of the reform.
In a first round, we will survey parents to children age 3-6 months. In a second round, we follow up on the same parents when the child is 15-18 months. Combined with register data on actual behavior of parents, this will create an unprecedented data source to evaluate the short and long run effects of earmarked leave.
Project: Does earmarked parental leave shape gender norms?
Period: 2022 - 2026
PI Jakob Egholt Søgaard