Parental leave has been linked to numerous positive child and family outcomes, yet little is known about which new mothers and fathers take longer parental leaves. Using structural equation modeling, we examined the financial, demographic, identity-relevant, and job characteristics that predict the duration of maternity and paternity leave in a community sample of 130 U.S. dual-earner couples who were followed across their transition to parenthood in 2008–2009. The findings show that financial characteristics, especially paid leave, are important for leave duration for both parents. In addition, identity-relevant and demographic characteristics mattered to length of paternity leave, whereas job characteristics were relevant to length of maternity leave. For fathers, longer leaves were associated with a greater proportion of paid leave, older paternal age, having a less planned pregnancy, and lower endorsement of maternal essentialism. For mothers, longer leaves were associated with a greater proportion of paid leave, higher household income, and lower job satisfaction. Together, these predictors explained 21% of the variance in maternity leave duration and 30% of the variance in paternity leave duration. In order for all U.S. parents, including fathers and low-income mothers, to reap the benefits of parental leave, financially incentivized leave would be most beneficial.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation (Grant CAREER 0746548), with additional support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant 1 K-1HD056238), and The Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant R24HD058484) and program in Human Development and Family Science.
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- Employee leave benefits
- Maternity leave
- Paid leave
- Paternity leave
- Transition to parenthood