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Fatherhood in the Nordic Welfare statesComparing care policies and practice$
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Guðný Björk Eydal and Tine Rostgaard

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447310471

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447310471.001.0001

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Parental leave and fathers:

Parental leave and fathers:

extending and deepening the knowledge base

(p.373) Seventeen Parental leave and fathers
Fatherhood in the Nordic Welfare states

Janet Gornick

Policy Press

This chapter synthesizes the volume, Fatherhood in the Nordic Welfare States: Comparing Care Policies and Practice, with a specific focus on parental leave and fathers. The author indicates that the book reports three main findings. First, gendered expectations regarding paid and unpaid work remain powerful and consequential - ‘even’ in these (relatively) gender-egalitarian Nordic countries. Despite the strong signal sent by the state, indicating that father-provided care is valued, many men and women adhere to traditional gendered role-allocation - they ‘do gender’ - which in turn constrains the power of the structural innovations embedded in the leave laws. Second, workplace actors and practices remain another substantial barrier to more extensive use of leave by fathers. In many cases, employers and places of employment impede fathers’ leave-taking. That constraint interacts with stubbornly gendered expectations, further undermining the potential of policy design elements aimed at shoring up men’s take-up. Third, fathers’ leave-taking is ‘classed’: constraints on leave usage are more severe among lower-earning, lower-income, and/or less educated men. In addition to suppressing men’s leave-taking overall, the existence of class gradients raises the spectre of hidden forms of inequality as well as the possibility that leave policies might inadvertently worsen some forms of inequality.

Keywords:   fathers, parental leave, care, class, Nordic welfare states

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