Reserving Time for Daddy: The Consequences of Fathers' Quotas

54 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014 Last revised: 25 Jan 2018

Ankita Patnaik

Cornell University; Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. - Human Services

Date Written: December 17, 2017


To motivate fathers to take parental leave, several nations have reformed their leave programs to increase compensation and reserve some leave for fathers. Though takeup has increased, it is unclear whether fathers are responding to financial incentives or changed constraints or the 'daddy-only' labels. Moreover, although paternity leave may facilitate temporary changes in the division of household labor, little is known about whether these effects persist in later years. This paper examines these issues while studying the Quebec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP), a landmark reform to parental leave that increased benefits for all parents and reserved some weeks for fathers. I exploit plausibly exogenous program variation and data on benefit claims to first explore the short-run effects on leave behavior. Both regression discontinuity and difference-in-difference analyses suggest that QPIP increased fathers' participation rates by 250% and leave duration by 3 weeks. Further, the results strongly suggest that fathers responded to not only the higher benefits under QPIP but also the ‘daddy-only’ label attached to the quota - a combination of these two factors caused a dramatic rise in men’s participation in parental leave. This paper thus provides novel evidence that daddy quotas can have a powerful labeling effect when they are accompanied with increased benefits.

Next, I investigate the long-term consequences on household dynamics by analyzing time-diary data and exploiting variation in exposure to QPIP across provinces, time and the age of one's children. This paper presents the first comprehensive evidence that exposure to paternity leave can have a large and persistent effect on the division of household labor: households exposed to QPIP are markedly less sex specialized in their time allocations and labor supply.

Taken together, these results shed light on how leave schemes can be designed to induce fathers to participate, and they suggest that small changes in the initial parenting experience can have lasting effects on parents’ behavior. In particular, they suggest that people respond to a combination of labels and financial incentives - and that behavior learned at the beginning of the parenthood experience tends to stick in later years. More broadly, my findings highlight that there need not be a trade-off between gender equality and parental time with children: paternity leave can distribute household responsibilities more equally and increase time investments in children.

Keywords: paternity leave, parental leave, daddy quota

JEL Classification: J13, J16, J22, J18, D10, D60

Suggested Citation

Patnaik, Ankita, Reserving Time for Daddy: The Consequences of Fathers' Quotas (December 17, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Ankita Patnaik (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. - Human Services ( email )

United States

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