Sweden offers a generous 480 days of parental leave per child which can be shared out between mothers and fathers as they see fit, but with each parent entitled to at least three months on a use-it-or-lose-it basis.
Despite great strides in gender equality, women still claim the lion's share of parental leave, which can be used at any time up until the child turns eight. But the number of dads appears to be rising.
Last year around a quarter, 27 percent, of all parental leave benefits was paid out to men, up by 0.8 percentage points on 2015, according to statistics by Sweden's national social insurance agency Försäkringskassan, reports news agency Siren. In 1999 the same figure was 12 percent.
But the increase is not seen across the board and the gap between those who do take parental leave and those who do not is growing, according to researcher Ann-Zofie Duvander at Stockholm University. But forcing parents to split the number of days equally, as has been suggested, may not be the answer.
“At one end we have men who do not have a job or have a low income, and they may possibly be affected by the level of compensation. At the other then are the high earners, the real career men. The thing to do to make them take more days is probably not about the level of compensation but rather about changing the focus of their work life,” Duvander told news agency Siren.
Some 80 percent of children in Sweden have two working parents, but only around 40 percent of mothers work full-time compared to some 75 percent of fathers, according to 2013 statistics.
Children are guaranteed a spot in daycare as of the age of 12 months for a very modest sum compared to many other countries, making it possible for parents to return to work.