Hands-on dads boost mums’ pay curve: study

Women whose partners take a greater share of parental leave stand to benefit by enjoying higher earnings when resuming work, a new study from the Institute for Labour Market Policy Research (IFAU) shows.

The report shows that when the first-born child is four-years-old, the mother and father have 4.5 and 7.6 percent lower earnings for each month he or she took parental leave in comparison to those without children.

The duration of the father’s parental leave is also a factor in the future earnings of the mother, with each month of parental leave increasing the mother’s future annual income by nearly 7 percent. This applies even after taking into account how long the mother herself was on maternity leave.

The same can not be said in return however with no correlation found between the duration of the mother’s parental leave and the father’s future annual earnings.

“A more evenly distributed parental leave perhaps contributes to a more egalitarian family and division of labour even after the end of parental leave,” said Elly-Ann Johansson, who carried out the study.

As the study covers annual earnings, the researcher was unable to conclude whether the increased earnings are due to longer working hours or a higher monthly wage.

Due to difficulties in comparing families and how they use their parental leave (in full or part-time), the report instead focused specifically on changes in pay development before and after the birth of the first child, up to the child’s fourth birthday.

“One could imagine, for example, that mothers who value their career and professional life highly both have higher incomes and take out a smaller share of parental leave, in comparison with less career-oriented mothers,” said Johansson.

The report studied 17,000 families who had their first child around the turn of years 1993/1994 and 1994/1995 or 2000/2001 and 2001/2002. The duration of parental leave is measured until the child is three and the income change is measured from the year prior to birth until the fourth birthday.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers

Spain’s Social Rights Minister wants to increase the parental leave Spanish mums and dads get for every newborn from the current 16 weeks to 24 weeks.

Spain could raise parental leave to six months for both mothers and fathers
Photo: David Straight/Unsplash

Spain’s Minister of Social Rights Ione Belarra announced on Wednesday that her department intends to extend parental leave for fathers and mothers to 24 weeks, equal to six months for each parent. 

“This Ministry is going to fight for extending permits to six months and to extend child education from 0 to 3 years in the public network of infant schools,” Belarra said at a conference on Spain’s upcoming Family Diversity Law, which the six-month parental leave would form part of. 

According to Belarra, who has taken over from Pablo Iglesias as the head of the hard-left party Unidas Podemos, the Spanish government has “unfinished business with the families of newborn babies”.

“I’m aware of how incredibly difficult it is for many families to find a balance between parenting and work, especially in the first years of their child’s life”, she said, and “how difficult it is for many mothers to leave four-month-old babies with other people to go back to their jobs”.

Spain increased its paternity leave for fathers to 16 weeks in January 2021, equalling the leave mothers get, both of which are remunerated at 100 percent of their regulatory base salary.

The country has also come a long way in terms of parental leave, as in 2006 new dads were still only given two days off to be with their newborns.

READ MORE: New fathers in Spain can now enjoy 16 weeks paternity leave

But according to Belarra (pictured below), the current amount of parental leave is still causing “difficulties” when raising babies, in the country with the second lowest birth rate in the EU.


According to ministerial sources, the fact that a concrete amount of parental leave has been put forward as part of the Family Diversity draft law should facilitate negotiations with the socialist PSOE party that Unidas Podemos forms a government coalition with. 

Belarra is also pushing for child benefits for parents as a means of encouraging couples who are not having children “for financial reasons” or because “they don’t have a suitable home or stable job”. 

The child benefit should be available even to those who don’t make social security contributions, who as things stand can’t access government parenting aid, the Social Rights Minister added.

“This family diversity law goes to the root of the problem, to protect the material living conditions of families and to make it a little easier to raise kids.

“It cannot be that the fourth economy of the EU allocates almost one point less of its GDP to support their families than the average.

“In Spain, having children severely increases the risk of being poor,” the minister concluded.

A total of 22,182 fewer babies were born in Spain in 2020, with the latest fertility index showing that the average number of children per woman in the country is only 1.18.