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Why fathers don’t take more parental leave in Germany: comparing mechanisms in different work organizations

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In 2007, new parental leave legislation was implemented in Germany, aiming at fostering fathers’ participation in childcare. Ten years later, fathers’ take-up of parental leave is still limited, since only every third father uses leave, and even if they take some leave, they mostly take only their exclusive ‘partner months’. The study addresses the question why more fathers do not take (more) parental leave, with a particular focus on the influence of workplaces. It uses Qualitative Comparative Analyses (QCA) to examine the mechanisms of fathers’ rejection of (longer) parental leave, differentiated by work organizations. Analyses are based on qualitative interview material with 47 fathers in three organizations. Results reveal that whether or not fathers take leave is particularly explained by workplace cultures and family economy considerations following a traditional gendered division of labour. In contrast, fathers’ taking leave for longer periods (vs. shorter ones) is mostly explained by mothers’ wishes to return to work earlier. The results suggest that it is important to understand fathers’ leave decisions as the outcome of a set of workplace and family conditions which in their interplay are multi-layered and context-sensitive.
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Keywords: Alemania; Baja por paternidad; Cuidado de niños; Germany; Igualdad de género; Padres; Parental leave; QCA; childcare; fathers; gender equality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, Institute of Sociology, Chair of Quantitative Methods, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Publication date: August 7, 2020

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