Generous paternity leave entitlements in a segmented labor market: A cautionary tale of paternity leave take-up in Spain

Speaker: Dani M. Marinova

Institution: professor Serra Hunter in the Department of Political Science at the UAB

To evaluate the success of paternity leave as a progressive, equal access policy instrument, it is essential to assess it against the backdrop of preexisting labor market inequalities that condition its use. We investigate a case of an extension of unprecedented length in paternity leave provisions in Spain. Analyses of an original mixed-sample survey administered to cohorts of fathers with varying leave entitlements show that take-up increases under the longer provision but does so unevenly. While already high levels of take-up surge further among fathers in stable employment, fathers in temporary jobs, the self-employed and those at the bottom and top of the income distribution maintain lower levels of usage. The former group take on average two to nine weeks more leave with their newborns than do the latter groups. The unprecedented length of Spain’s paternity leave provision thus compounds preexisting inequalities in take-up rates. Results tell a cautionary tale of generous paternity leave provisions in the context of a segmented labor market, with bleak implications for the policy instrument’s capacity to generate social change across social strata. With the entering into force of the EU Work-life Balance Directive in 2019, other European states are considering the implementation of generous benefits for fathers, thus increasing the policy relevance of understanding how preexisting labor market segmentation shapes inequalities in the use of paternity leave in Spain.

Date: 20/02/2024

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