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Men's Contribution to Childcare: the Effect of Paternity Leave Policies in 26 Countries

Student: Maria Kudryavtseva

Supervisor: Maria Davidenko

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Comparative Social Research (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2019

Over past decades, many changes have happened in labour market participation, which led to changes in whole society. However, they have only marginally involved a shift in normative assumptions concerning parenthood and childcare, regardless the attempts of many states to neutralize the gender gap in housework division which oftenly resulted in even stricter gendered-typed division of house tasks. In response, many states introduced paternity leave policy as one of the most important governmental mechanisms in the shift towards equal rights and gender equality. But the effect of father-specific leave on men's factual involvement in childcare is underexplored. In this study, I investigate which mechanisms influence fathers' time spent on childcare with a specific focus on paternity leave policy, as well as cultural norms and individual level factors, based upon three perspectives: institutional , interactional and individual level approaches (including time-availability theory, power theory and gender role theory). The results of the present study on 26 OECD countries and data based on “Family and Changing Gender Roles” conducted by the International Social Survey Program in 2012, demonstrate that paid parental leave can indeed be an effective tool to encourage (heterosexual) partners to divide childcare more equally, but at the same time, this effect is mediated by the cultural context, which establishes a basis for social acceptance of men’s care work and the successful implementation of paternity policy.

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