Men more likely to take paternity leave for sons

Family|December 2nd 2015

Men are almost 60 per cent more likely to take paternity leave for newborn sons, research suggests.

Academics from the University of Virginia, Columbia University and the University of California Santa Barbara analysed census data in order to examine the effects of the California Paid Family Leave Programme. Introduced in in 2004, as the name suggests this provide funding for time away from work. It was the first such programme in the whole of the United States, which remains unique among industrialised nations in having no national parental leave programme.

The team discovered that men were a decisive 58 per cent more likely to take paternity leave via the Programme if they were having a son rather than a daughter. The only exceptions to this were first time fathers. The effect was even more pronounced for men with working wives – when such families had daughters, the Paid Leave Programme made almost no difference to the husband’s likelihood of taking paternity leave.

Overall, fathers were 46 per cent more likely to take leave from work when income was available via the Programme, but the overall total was still a tiny 2.9 per cent.

The study also found no effect on the productivity or profitability of the men’s employers.

Assistant Professor Rossin Slater of the University of California Santa Barbara explained:

“Contrary to popular opinion or popular media stories on these topics, it’s not the case that these businesses have any adverse effect on measures of productivity or turnover. Surely there are some small businesses that are hurt, but overall it doesn’t seem to have a negative effect.”

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