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Fathers’ leave take-up in Finland: Motivations and barriers in a complex Nordic leave scheme

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Eerola, P., Lammi-Taskula, J., O'brien, M., Hietamäki, J., & Räikkönen, E.
Publication Date: 
29 Oct 2019

Excerpted from abstract

Despite being the first country in the world to introduce paternity leave in 1978, Finland’s current national leave scheme is complex with regard to incentivizing fathers’ take-up. Taking the unique Finnish leave scheme as a case example, this article examines fathers’ motivations and barriers to leave. Although research on fathers’ take-up of leave in divergent leave policy contexts has increased dramatically, fathers’ motivations and barriers to leave have remained underresearched. The article reports on a survey sample of 852 Finnish fathers of infants who were taking paternity, parental, and other forms of leave, drawn from the Population Register Center. Results show that less than 20% of fathers report taking no leave, with more than 80% taking some form of leave. A multinomial logistic regression analysis indicates that father’s work, partner’s education, and family income, along with father’s wish to take a break from work and wish to facilitate mother’s return to work or studies, are the key characteristics and motivations associated with fathers’ take-up of leave. The most common barriers to fathers’ take-up of leave were related to the family’s economic situation and the father’s job. It is suggested that decreasing maternalism in the leave scheme, by extending investment in fathers’ individual well-paid leave weeks, will also help promote greater gender equality for working parents in Finland following the path of Nordic neighbors.