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If I [take] leave, will you stay? Paternity leave and relationship stability

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Petts, R. J., Carlson, D. L., & Knoester, C.
Publication Date: 
13 Nov 2019


Recent European studies suggest that fathers’ leave-taking may contribute to parental relationship stability. Paternity leave-taking may signal a commitment by fathers toward a greater investment in family life, which may reduce the burden on mothers and strengthen parental relationships. This study uses longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to analyze the association between paternity leave-taking and relationship stability in the United States. Results indicate that paternity leave-taking, and taking relatively short leaves (i.e. two weeks or less) in particular, is associated with greater relationship stability. These findings increase our understanding of the potential benefits of paternity leave, and can inform policy decisions that aim to increase family stability.