Is Spanish parental leave 'traditionalising' the gender distribution of childcare and housework?
Keywords:parental leave, childcare, gender
Objective: The question addressed in this study is the possible effect of mothers' use of parental leave on the share of childcare and housework assumed by each parent.
Background: Whilst the length of parental leave is greater in Spain than in other European countries, as it is unpaid, take-up rates are low. Such leaves are taken more frequently and for longer periods by women than men.
Method: To determine the answer, two multivariate regression models were applied to National Statistics Institute 2018 Fertility Survey data. The main independent variables were fathers' and mothers' use of parental leave. The models also controlled for the effects of family and socio-economic variables on the share of childcare and housework assumed by each parent.
Results: The findings showed that mothers' use of unpaid full-time parental leave traditionalises the distribution of domestic chores only when the leave extends beyond one year, whereas part-time leave-taking has no effect whatsoever. That such reversion to tradition can be neutralised when fathers take leaves attests to the advisability of encouraging paternal use. The effects apply to childcare only, however, for other household chores are still distributed along very traditional lines.
Conclusion: Unpaid parental leave use by mothers "traditionalizes" the allocation of childcare within the couple, but only when it takes longer than a year.