June 10, 2021, Libertad González (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Promoting Gender Equality? Paternity Leave and Household Choices
We consider a non-cooperative model in which the husband and wife decide on parental leave and the allocation of time between child rearing and the labor market. They can choose the non-cooperative outside option or cooperate by reaching an agreement of specialization, in which the wife specializes in raising kids while the husband works and transfers consumption to his wife. The model shows that "egalitarian" couples (with a sufficiently small gender wage gap) do not specialize and play the outside option, while "traditional" (with a medium gender wage gap) and "very traditional" (with a sufficiently high gender wage gap) couples do have such an agreement. A expansion in paternity leave reduces the net benefits from the agreement and moves traditional couples to their outside option, where women work more and men do more childcare. As a result, the cost of raising children increases, and fertility declines. Assuming a loss of utility from children in the case of divorce, lower fertility increases the probability of divorce. Using Spanish data and RDD analysis, we confirm our model’s predictions. Specifically, we find that, among traditional couples, the two-week paternity leave introduced in 2007 resulted in a reduction in fertility by up to 15%, an increase in the probability to divorce by 37%, an increase female employment by up to 7 percentage points, and an increase in father’s childcare time by as much as an hour per day.