Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2020

Department 1

Political Science


The development of paid parental leave programs has become a growing part of national and international dialogues. In particular, the implementation of paternity leave is believed to facilitate women’s participation in the workforce, which most Western countries have outlined as an objective. In addition, paternity leave programs are also believed to foster more equitable work environments and challenge gender norms that stereotype women as the primary caregiver. As of 2016, about two-thirds of OECD countries provide some form of both paid maternity, paternity, and combined parental leave ; however, the gender composition of who claims these benefits is still largely skewed in several countries. In France, which has the most elaborate leave system, only 62-66% eligible French fathers take at least part of their offered paternity leave. Furthermore, French fathers only account for 4% of parents who claim parental leave. In Sweden, on the other hand, around 90% of eligible Swedish fathers take at least part of their offered paternity leave, and they account for anywhere from 27 to 45% of parents who claim parental leave. A comparative analysis of five different independent variables - Financial Considerations, Fears of Negative Career Consequences, Breadth and Depth of Maternity Leave, Disinterest, and the Use-it-or-lose is policy - was conducted to determine why French fathers participate in paternity and parental leave programs at significantly lower rates than Swedish fathers. The study concludes that Disinterest, stemming from traditional views on gender roles, is likely the most impactful variable on participation rates. However, Financial Considerations, Fears of Negative Career Consequences, and France’s only recently implemented Use-it-or-lose parental leave policy likely exaggerate this disparity. To further investigate this claim, it would be beneficial to more closely examine and compare French and Swedish workplace cultures as well as how each country’s religious influence impacts the populations’ perceptions of gender roles.


Written as a senior capstone in Comparative Politics for Political Science.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.