Sweden offers 480 days of parental leave per child which can be shared out between mothers and fathers as they see fit, but with each parent entitled to at least three use-it-or-lose-it months.
Despite great strides in gender equality, women still claim the lion's share, but the number of dads claiming parental allowance – paid at about 80 percent of their salary – has grown slowly but surely.
Last year fathers claimed 27.9 percent of parental leave, according to annual statistics by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency reported by the TT newswire, one percentage unit more than the year before.
“It's moving in the right direction, but there's still some way to go to the limit of shame for a gender equal payout of 60/40,” commented the agency's family economist Niklas Löfgren.
Sweden increased the months of parental leave reserved for one parent (often referred to as “daddy months”, although they are not gender specific) from two to three in 2016. A government inquiry proposed last year that they be increased to five months, however parliament is divided on the issue.
Sweden first allowed fathers to stay at home with their young children in 1974, but it did not have an immediate effect. As late as the mid-1990s dads still only claimed around 10 percent of parental leave.
“The reforms where a number of days have been reserved for the dad is what has had the biggest impact. The years after these were implemented you can see jumps in the statistics,” said Löfgren.
Dads in Vindeln municipality in the northern Västerbotten region claimed the most parental leave in Sweden in 2017, 34.7 percent. Dals-Ed in Västergötland ended up at the bottom with 20.4 percent.