Parents out for a stroll with baby. Photo: Hasse Holmberg / TT

Few affected by parental leave bonus

Government issued parental leave bonuses were intended to make the burden of parenting more equal between women and men. However, they seem to have had little effect on how Swedish parents divide their allotment of parental leave.

According to an evaluation by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency commissioned by the government, only 20 percent of parents are sharing their parental leave more equally. 76 percent say they are not affected at all.

If parents share the parental leave time equally, they will automatically receive SEK 13 500, without even needing to apply.

Despite the lack of effectiveness of the bonus, 9 out of 10 parents approve of the idea behind them.

Economic analyst Laura Hartman says that economic factors aren't the only thing that affect the parental leave decisions of parents. There are also factors such as traditional norms which play a very large role.

As long as the system is based to a large degree on free choice, other means are required, Hartman says.

"We have to spread knowledge about the possible consequences of unequal parental responsibilities can have. How one shares parental leave days correlates to how one year later household chores are shared in the family. There are also consequences for career, salary and pension," Hartman told news agency TT.

Equality Minister Maria Arnholm was asked by Swedish Radio if the poor knowledge and effectiveness about the bonuses means that the government should phase them out and initiate in their stead more quotas for parental leave time. She replied that "it is too early to cancel the bonuses."

Arnholm also said that the government was not against earmarking a specific number of months for each parent and that both bonuses and quotas are tools that can increase gender equality in parenting.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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