For better or worse: How more flexibility in working time arrangements and parental leave experiences affect fathers' working and childcare hours in Germany
Keywords:employer-oriented working hours, fatherhood, fixed schedules, flexitime, parental leave experience, self-determined working hours
Objective: In this study, we investigate the effect of flexible working time arrangements and parental leave experiences on the actual working and childcare hours of men.
Background: Many fathers want to spend more time with their children and actively participate in family life, but, after becoming a parent, most work even more hours than before. To better combine work and family, the possibility of flexible working time arrangements might play a crucial role for fathers, also to become more involved in childcare activities.
Method: We use longitudinal data of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) to examine how flexible working time arrangements, parental leave experiences, working hours, and childcare hours are related. Based on data between 2013 and 2019, panel regression models were estimated.
Results: The results show that a change from fixed to flexible working time regulations leads to an increase in working hours for men and fathers. The longer working hours of fathers go hand in hand with a reduction in the time spent on childcare activities when switching to flexible working time arrangements. However, experiences with parental leave in connection with flexible working hours show a change in the use of time.
Conclusion: Flexible working time regulations prove to be ambivalent for fathers: On the one hand, they offer fathers new leeway, on the other hand, due to traditional role models, they lead to longer working hours and thus less participation in childcare; but parental leave experiences make a difference, which indicates the importance of these regulations for fathers.
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