Free DP Download 13 June 2019 - When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers’ Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health

Thursday, June 13, 2019

When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers’ Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health  

Petra Persson and Maya Rossin-Slater 

CEPR DP No. 13780 

Giving fathers greater flexibility around when they can take parental leave reduces the risk of mothers experiencing physical health complications in the months after giving birth and also improves their mental health. These are the central findings of a new CEPR study that analyses the results of a reform to parental leave policies in Sweden.

The researchers note that while workplace flexibility is widely understood to be a key determinant of maternal labour supply, less is known about fathers’ demand for flexibility or about spillover effects of flexibility initiatives within households. Their study examines these issues in the context of a critical period in family life – the months immediately following childbirth – and identifies the impacts of paternal access to workplace flexibility on maternal postpartum health.

The results suggest that mothers bear the burden from a lack of workplace flexibility not only directly through greater career costs of family formation, but also indirectly, as fathers’ inability to respond to domestic shocks exacerbates the maternal health costs of childbearing.

Figure 1: Cumulative Distribution of Initiation of Post-Baseline Paternity Leave for Fathers of Firstborn Children Born in 2011 and 2012

Note: The figure plots the cumulative distribution of the initiation of post-baseline parental leave among fathers by month following childbirth separately for fathers of firstborn singleton children born in 2011 and 2012. 

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