Fathers who take paternity leave spend more time with their children and do more household work in subsequent years, a study published on Friday by the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research finds.
According to the RWI study, fathers who took time off work to help care for a new-born spent three additional hours on average with their children each weekend during the first six years of their lives than those fathers who had not taken any paternity leave.
The findings were based on an analysis of data from regular and representative "Socio-Economic Panel" (SOEP) surveys conducted by the Essen-based research institute.
Paternity leave was further found to have a statistically significant effect on the distribution of household chores in families. Fathers who had taken leave spent half an hour more on average doing daily housework than those which worked continuously during the infancy of their children.
Speaking to the Funke media group, study author Marcus Tamm noted that the sustainability of the "behavioural changes" caused by paternity leave as a surprise to the researchers. "Even if it mostly only lasts for two months, it changes the role which the father has in the family in the long-term", Tamm said.
In order to determine a confident causal relation between paternity leave and subsequent parenting behavior, the study compared men in Germany who had become fathers before and after the introduction of a new system of government-funded paternity leave in the country in 2007.
Tamm explained that behavioral changes observed following the reforms suggested that these were not just due to some fathers being generally more engaged in family life and hence also more likely to take leave. "We see differences with the same fathers between the first child for which they did not take leave and the second child for which they took at least two months off."
Commenting on the study in conversation with the Funke media group, family minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) argued that the findings provided evidence that Germany's parental leave policies were bearing fruit. "We have achieved a societal transformation with the parental allowance", Giffey said.
As of Jan. 1 2007, families in Germany have become eligible for 14 months of paid parental leave out of which two months are reserved for the father and two months are reserved for the mother. Families lose the two so-called "daddy months" unless they take them.
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