Parent's Specialization: Causes and Consequences


Parenthood is associated with increased specialization, and according to recentstudies this pattern is the main culprit for the remaining gender wage gap. In light of the persistent wage gap, family policies, such as earmarked parental leave, have gained political attention. The EU has for example approved a directive requiring member states to ensure at least two months of paternity leave. It is therefore highly relevant to study the effectiveness of such policies, and to gain better understanding of how couples' make decisions about division of labor as they enter parenthood. We propose studying couples during the time where their outcomes start to diverge, namely the first 18 months after their first child is born, using data from Iceland and Denmark. Both countries have high level of gender equality, but differ substantially in terms of their parental leave systems. In our analysis, we will focus on the role of policy, financial incentives, information, and gender norms.


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