OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers

1815-199X (online)
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This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market, social policy and migration studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Fathers' Leave, Fathers' Involvement and Child Development

Are They Related? Evidence from Four OECD Countries You or your institution have access to this content

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Maria del Carmen Huerta1, Willem Adema1, Jennifer Baxter2, Wen-Jui Han3, Mette Lausten4, RaeHyuck Lee3, Jane Waldfogel3
Author Affiliations
  • 1: OECD, France

  • 2: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australia

  • 3: Columbia University, United States

  • 4: Danish National Institute of Social Research, Denmark

14 Jan 2013
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Previous research has shown that fathers taking some time off work around childbirth, especially periods of leave of 2 or more weeks, are more likely to be involved in childcare related activities than fathers who do not do so. Furthermore, evidence suggests that children with fathers who are ‘more involved’ perform better during the early years than their peers with less involved fathers. This paper analyses data of four OECD countries — Australia; Denmark; United Kingdom; United States — to describe how leave policies may influence father’s behaviours when children are young and whether their involvement translates into positive child cognitive and behavioural outcomes. This analysis shows that fathers’ leave, father’s involvement and child development are related. Fathers who take leave, especially those taking two weeks or more, are more likely to carry out childcare related activities when children are young. This study finds some evidence that children with highly involved fathers tend to perform better in terms of cognitive test scores. Evidence on the association between fathers’ involvement and behavioural outcomes was however weak. When data on different types of childcare activities was available, results suggest that the kind of involvement matters. These results suggest that what matters is the quality and not the quantity of father-child interactions.
parental leave, cognitive development, paternity leave, United Kingdom, fathers’ involvement, behavioural problems, Australia, United States, Denmark, birth cohort studies
JEL Classification:
  • D10: Microeconomics / Household Behavior and Family Economics / Household Behavior: General
  • D60: Microeconomics / Welfare Economics / Welfare Economics: General
  • J13: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
  • J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
  • J22: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Time Allocation and Labor Supply
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