Studies on Parental Leave and Co-residence using Swedish Register Data

Sammanfattning: Understanding the two primary life-course events that create and accelerate gender inequality within the couple -- the transition to parenthood and parental separation -- may ameliorate their far-reaching consequences over the life-course in multiple domains of life. This thesis includes four studies on various aspects of these life-course events. The first two studies investigate division of child care at the transition to parenthood. A gender equal transition to parenthood, in which both women and men take leave off work to care for their children, is essential for couples to achieve gender equality in the family as well as in the labor market. Study I investigates the ways in which Swedish couples do such ‘dual-caring’ and shows that the dominant trajectory of dual care is characterized by taking turns as the child’s primary caregiver. Study II investigates how the domain of paid work may hinder or facilitate a gender equal transition to parenthood, focusing on economic considerations and occupational conditions of work. Study III investigates gendered division of care leave taken after couples have returned to paid work. It shows that economic differentials within the couple may shape the onset of long-term division of child care but that short-term economic incentives do not seem to alter the division. Study IV turns to parental separation as the second life-course event in which gender inequality is accelerated. As children have been most likely to live with their mothers when their parents’ union ends, parental separation typically marks the (possible) second life-course event in which unpaid work is shifted towards women. Study IV provides a method for estimating parental separation with register data and therefore making possible studies of outcomes for mothers, fathers and children who live apart. All studies use administrative register data. These data provide a unique source of couple-level longitudinal information on all parental couples registered in Sweden. The first two studies are made possible by the availability of dated information on parental leave use. The third study accurately traces division of care leave by income composition within the couple. The last study traces parental coresidence from birth to age 15 for a period of almost four decades.

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