Parental Leave Equality and Subjective Well-Being

13 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2016 Last revised: 7 Aug 2018

Date Written: November 1, 2016


This study uses data from Sweden to investigate the proportional distribution of parental leave days between parents and to analyze how this “parental leave equality” may be related to the parents’ subjective well-being. Three results are presented. First, there is no linear relationship between the total share of leave days taken by an individual and that individual’s subjective well-being; in other words, more parental leave is not unequivocally better. Second, and by contrast, there seems to be a significant relationship between parental leave equality and subjective well-being, which implies that parents who share the responsibility for childrearing more equally tend to be more satisfied with their lives. Third, a very simple and tentative analysis of a Swedish parental leave reform suggests that incentivizing parents to share leave days more equally potentially could have improved their subjective well-being.

Keywords: parental leave equality, subjective well-being, happiness, life satisfaction, parental leave, paid leave, family leave, gender, gender equality, sex equality, domestic work

JEL Classification: D63, E24, I14, J16, J22, J38, K38

Suggested Citation

Hedlin, Simon, Parental Leave Equality and Subjective Well-Being (November 1, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Simon Hedlin (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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