You probably know that paternity leave is becoming much more common, and that it’s been shown to be beneficial for the whole family. But I was recently surprised to learn why it’s so advantageous—and who reaps the rewards.
A few weeks ago, Liza Mundy of New America Foundation and the author of The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners is Transforming Our Culture helped push the concept of paternity leave into the ongoing national conversation about “having it all” as working parents with her Atlantic article, “The Daddy Track.”
Mundy points out that fathers who take paternity leave and play an equal role in the difficult first few weeks with a newborn tend to stay more active in the child’s life as he or she grows up, creating a more even distribution of household and baby responsibilities and avoiding the “second shift” paradox (when working mothers do most of the household work, even though they work full-time). Mundy further concludes that the true beneficiaries of paternity leave are women and the businesses and nations that employ them, since paternity leave has been shown to “boost male participation in the household, enhance female participation in the labor force, and promote gender equity in both domains.” In other words, it’s a smart economic strategy for governments, because it shrinks the gender pay gap and helps ensure that women, who, in many countries, are often better educated than men, return to the workforce after having children.