University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) > Fathers, Infants and Family Leave Policies: International Perspectives and Policy Impact

Fathers, Infants and Family Leave Policies: International Perspectives and Policy Impact

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Infant care is no longer purely a private family matter. The challenge for most nations is to reach a settlement on the relative contribution of public and family resources to create a sustainable framework for mothers and fathers to work and care for their infant. A recent policy spot-light has been fathers. From the late 1990s, in particular, there has been a rapid expansion of parental leave and flexible working provision targeted at fathers, especially in the Nordic countries which have been global pioneers in work-family policy innovation. Even in the US, where work-family policy measures have not been a priority, fathers as well as mothers have been included in recent Congressional deliberations about work- family reconciliation.

Using country audit data, prepared by national experts of the International Network on Leave Policy and Research (Moss and O’Brien, 2006) this paper will review evidence on fathers’ patterns of leave taking and flexible working across several industrialised countries. Although process and impact studies of family leave are at an early stage, it will be suggested that family leave and flexible working has the potential to boost fathers’ emotional investment and connection with infants. These infants have the opportunity to start life in parental time-rich environments.

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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