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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Knoester, C., Petts, R.J. & Pragg, B. Paternity Leave-Taking and Father Involvement among Socioeconomically Disadvantaged U.S. Fathers. Sex Roles 81, 257–271 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-018-0994-5

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Keywords

  • Parental leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Fatherhood
  • Father involvement
  • Father identity theory