Who cares? Determinants of the fathers' use of parental leave in Germany

Nora Reich, Hamburg Institute of International Economics

The aim of this study is the identification of socio-economic and workplace-related determinants of the fathers’ use of parental leave after the introduction of the Parental Allowance and Parental Leave Act in Germany in 2007. According to this law, parents can share 14 months parental leave among each other. Following the “use-it-or-lose-it”-system, two months are reserved for the other parent that doe4s not take the lion’s share. One result which is already visible is that the share of parental allowance applications by fathers increased sharply from 3 % under the previous legislation to 17 % in mid-2008. Previous studies show that a father’s decision for taking parental leave depends on socio-economic characteristics (e.g. marital status, educational level) as well as working conditions (e.g. firm size, work contract). As the introduction of the new legislation strong paradigm shift in federal family policy, and this parental leave scheme rather resembles the Swedish scheme than the former German one, it is expected that the results of this study differ substantially from those of previous German studies and may rather be similar to those of Scandinavian analyses. Using data from the 2007 German Microcensus, it is estimated which variables influence the fathers’ use of parental leave, and, if applicable, how strong this influence is. As a method, a binary response model is applied. The results show that characteristics of the workplace, also in comparison to the spouse, are more important than most personal characteristics for a father’s decision about using parental leave. Taking a closer look at the effect of each independent variable, the findings are partly consistent with German studies that have been conducted under the former family policy regime and partly with Scandinavian studies.

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Presented in Session 88: Parental leave policies in European countries