Use It or Save It? Migration Background and Parental Leave Uptake in Sweden

Abstract

Sweden is a welfare state with a family policy that strongly emphasizes equality without distinction by place of birth or gender. In this study, we investigate the differences in uptake of parental leave between native and immigrant mothers, and the connection to labour-market attachment. Sweden represents a unique case study, not only because of the strong effort to combine work and family for all women and men, the high level of fertility and the large presence of immigrants in the country; it also enables a detailed and sophisticated analysis based on the high-quality data derived from its population registers. We find that immigrant mothers use more parental leave benefit the first year after their child’s birth, but then fewer in the second year compared with native mothers. The differences diminish when labour-market activity is controlled for. Additionally, after a time in Sweden, immigrant mothers use leave more similarly to how native mothers do.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    There is no difference between December children and all children regarding the mother’s age, but for children with a native mother there is a difference regarding educational level. Native mothers with children born in December have a significantly lower than average educational level. For immigrant mothers, we find no differences between those having children in December and during the rest of the year. As immigrant mothers tend to have lower education, they are more similar to native mothers of December children than to other native mothers. As our aim is to test the difference between these groups, we believe that, if anything, our results would be even stronger if we could use children born during the whole year.

  2. 2.

    Only 0.54 % of natives ever emigrated during the observation period.

  3. 3.

    Results not shown; please contact the authors for details.

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Acknowledgments

This study was partly funded by the Swedish Research Council through the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in the Social and Medical Sciences (SIMSAM) and partly by the Family Dynamics in Europe (SPaDE), Grant Registration Number 349-2007-8701. We are very grateful to the anonymous referees and Helga De Valk who through their valuable suggestions have enabled us to greatly improve the article.

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Correspondence to Eleonora Mussino.

Appendix

Appendix

See Table 4.

Table 4 Mothers of children born in December during the years 1997–2004 by socio-demographic characteristics (absolute and percentage values)

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Mussino, E., Duvander, AZ. Use It or Save It? Migration Background and Parental Leave Uptake in Sweden. Eur J Population 32, 189–210 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10680-015-9365-x

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Keywords

  • Parental leave
  • Sweden
  • Integration
  • Immigrants