Sex Roles

, Volume 81, Issue 5–6, pp 257–271 | Cite as

Paternity Leave-Taking and Father Involvement among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged U.S. Fathers

  • Chris KnoesterEmail author
  • Richard J. Petts
  • Brianne Pragg
Original Article


In the present study, we examine the associations between the amount of time that U.S. employed fathers took off from work after the birth of a child (i.e., paternity leave-taking) and trajectories of how frequently fathers engage with their children and take responsibility for them. To do so, we analyze longitudinal data on 2109 fathers from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a data set that contains information from disproportionately socioeconomically disadvantaged families from large urban areas. The results indicate that, 1 year after birth, paternity leave-taking and lengths of leave are positively associated with fathers’ engagement and responsibility. In addition, paternity leave-taking is positively associated with trajectories of fathers’ responsibility over the first 5 years after birth. Lengths of paternity leave are positively associated with trajectories of fathers’ engagement. Finally, there is evidence that paternity leave-taking and lengths of leave-taking are especially likely to boost fathers’ engagement and responsibility among nonresident fathers. Overall, the findings from the present study suggest that an expansion of paternity leave-taking may encourage higher subsequent levels of father involvement—especially among nonresident fathers.


Parental leave Paternity leave Fatherhood Father involvement Father identity theory 



The present research was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R03HD087875. Brianne Pragg is supported by funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to the Population Research Institute at The Pennsylvania State University for Population Research Infrastructure (P2C HD041025) and Family Demography Training (T32 HD007514). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare regarding this work.

Supplementary material

11199_2018_994_MOESM1_ESM.docx (49 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 48 kb)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyBall State UniversityMuncieUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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