Merging Separate Spheres: Can Paternity Leave Reduce Sex Specialization in the Long Run?

Ankita Patnaik

Cornell University

March 27, 2014

There has been a recent trend in policy-making towards incentivizing fathers to take parental leave in order to boost women's labor market positions. Though paternity leave can temporarily facilitate a less gendered division of household labor, little research has been able to determine whether these effects persist after the leave period ends or whether the household reverts to traditional gender roles afterward. This paper presents the first causal evidence that exposure to paternity leave can have a large and lasting impact on household sex specialization. I exploit exogenous variation in exposure to a 'daddy quota' for parental leave across Canadian provinces and years, and use time-diary data to analyze whether it was associated with changes in fathers and mothers' time allocations in the long term. I find strong evidence of reduced specialization in exposed households: exposed fathers spend considerably more time in non-market care work after the reform. At the same time, exposed mothers spend considerably more time in paid work and are also more likely to be employed and full-time workers.

Keywords: paternity leave, sex specialization, division of labor

JEL Classification: J13, J16, J22, D10, D60

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Date posted: November 23, 2012 ; Last revised: November 24, 2015

Suggested Citation

Patnaik, Ankita, Merging Separate Spheres: Can Paternity Leave Reduce Sex Specialization in the Long Run? (March 27, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2179070 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2179070

Contact Information

Ankita Patnaik (Contact Author)
Cornell University ( email )
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
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