Sweden's basic allowance for paid parental leave is 480 days per child, of which 90 are reserved for each parent and the rest can be divided up as the parents choose.
A new analysis from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (FK) showed that new fathers are using more days of parental leave since the amount reserved for each parent was increased from two months to three in 2016, but that the change applies primarily only to groups in certain demographics.
“It seems that these reserved months have had an effect on the development towards a more equal withdrawal of parental benefit,” Alexandra Wallin, head of FK's family department, told TT.
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In 1995, the first reserved month for each parent was introduced, and that was increased to two months in 2002. After these changes, fathers took out a higher proportion of the total parental allowance and FK's new analysis, released on Tuesday, shows that the addition of a third month has had the same effect.
Dads of children born in 2016 took out an average of 4.1 more parental leave days during their child's first two years than dads of children born earlier.
“Any increase is good,” said Wallin. “This affects equality in working live; how much access children have to their parents; and having a more equal withdrawal [of parental leave] is one of the political goals for equality.”
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The reserved 90 days does not mean that fathers are obligated to take this time, but it means that these days cannot be transferred to the mother. The proportion of parents who took at least 90 days has increased from 36 percent to 40 percent.
But it is primarily fathers with a medium level of education who have increased their amount of parental leave, while those with a lower level of education have not been affected so much, and Wallin said fathers who did not take any parental benefit “have shown themselves to be a hard group to reach”.
Self-employed men on average took fewer days of parental benefit, as did some groups of foreign-born fathers, but Wallin warned against jumping to conclusions.
“Previous studies have shown that norms and attitudes to parental leave have a greater effect than financial conditions, but employers' attitudes also play a role,” she said.
FK's analysis said that the impact of introducing the third reserved month “shows that further changes are needed in order to reach a more equal division for all groups”.
equal – jämställd
parental benefit – föräldrapenning
to be born – födda
equality – jämställdhet
employer – arbetsgivare
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