Merging Separate Spheres: The Role of Policy in Promoting ‘Dual-Earner Dual-Carer’ Households
June 5, 2013
This paper studies the long-term effects of a policy promoting paternal leave-taking on mothers’ and fathers’ time spent on childcare, domestic work and paid work. I take a quasi-experimental approach by exploiting variation across province, time and timing of birth in exposure to this policy, and use time-diary data to analyze whether it was associated with changes in sex specialization within exposed households in the long term. I find evidence that households exposed to the reform displayed less sex specialization within the spheres of housework and paid work. First, fathers who were exposed to the reform reported more time in housework than fathers who were not exposed. Moreover, exposed fathers increased their time in particularly time-inflexible tasks such as cooking and shopping which are more likely to pose a conflict with work or leisure. Meanwhile, there was no change in mothers’ overall contributions to housework, though results indicate a small shift away from routine tasks and towards more flexible tasks. Second, mothers who were exposed to the reform reported considerably more time in paid work than their unexposed counterparts, primarily due to higher probability of full-time work than part-time work. The results for childcare are more complex: both mothers and fathers who were exposed to the reform had a slightly lower probability of reporting any childcare that day, but displayed increased time in childcare among those that did.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: housework, childcare, parental leave, paternity leave
JEL Classification: J18, J16working papers series
Date posted: November 23, 2012 ; Last revised: June 10, 2013
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