New figures from Sweden’s Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) reveal that fathers accounted for a total of 22.3 percent of all leave days taken by Swedish parents in 2009, an all-time high, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.
Measured in days, dads in Sweden took out an average of 34 parental leave days last year, compared to only 24 days in 2000.
“The increase in the days taken by men has primarily occurred when it comes to younger children, those who haven’t yet turned two,” the agency’s Niklas Löfgren told DN.
Parents of children in Sweden have the right to take a total of 480 calendar days of parental leave per child up until the child's eighth birthday.
The social insurance agency pays parental leave benefits equivalent to about 80 percent wages, up to salaries of 33,000 kronor per month.
In 2002, legislation was passed doubling the number of days specified for use by each parent from 30 to 60 days.
Thus, if either parent takes less than 60 days of parental leave, the days are lost.
While the remaining 360 days can be divided between parents as they wish, there are tax benefits for families who split the days more equally among each parent.
Parents with sole custody of a child, on the other hand, have the right to take out all 480 days.
Psychology professor Philip Hwang at the University of Gothenburg said his research indicates that employers have also become more open to having men take parental leave.
In 1994, three of four employers were positive toward fathers taking parental leave. In 2006, there was a dramatic change and now there are really no employers who speak negatively about fathers being at home,” he told DN.