Principal investigator

Helen Eriksson


Maria Brandén

Funding source

Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, Forte

Project title

A family decision? Population studies of parental leave at the gendered workplace

Project details


Project description

Men and women in childless couples in Sweden spend roughly the same number of hours on paid and unpaid work. When the first child arrives, couples’ time divisions become gender unequal. A better understanding of why couples ‘choose’ an unequal division of parental leave is therefore crucial for understanding not just gender unequal family life but also the reproduction of the gender unequal labor market.

Two types of studies have dominated the field of parental leave research: (1) Population and survey studies in which the unit of analysis is the individual and the couple, and (2) small-scale case studies of single workplaces. In this project we intend to bring in theoretical insights from the small-scale workplace studies – that clearly show how workplaces punish father leave to a greater extent than mother leave – into population studies of leave-taking. The project provides, to the best of our knowledge, the first set of population studies in which each parent is linked to their workplace.

Register data provide information on all first-time parents in any of the years 1993-2020, more than 400,000 couples across more than 60,000 workplaces. We use fixed effects models to estimate the within-workplace effects and multi-level models to model the between-workplace effect. The project will provide understanding of how the family decision to take leave is conditional on expectations of the gendered workplace and may provide new insights into how policy-making may benefit from a shift from the individual and couple to the workplace.