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“Parental leave” is often understood to be synonymous with “maternity leave,” but that’s only half of the story. Indeed, data from Statistics Canada shows that in 2017, 90% of mothers took maternity leave, but only 12% of fathers took or intended to take paternity leave.[1] However, attention is beginning to shift to paternity leaves and the role of fatherhood. Research on parenting, which has traditionally examined the effect of the mother on children’s outcomes, is now focusing on the importance of the father.[2] [3] At the organizational and policy level, decision-makers have begun to implement paternity-leave policies to encourage fathers to share child-rearing responsibilities. For example, in 2015 Goldman Sachs doubled the length of their paternity leaves from two weeks to four weeks.[4] In Canada, new federal parental leave policies created a “use it or lose it” five weeks of leave for the second parent in an effort to encourage fathers to take time off to spend with their infants.[5]

To shed light on the implications of paternity leaves and fatherhood for policy and households, the Institute for Gender and the Economy held a panel discussion with leading scholars during its 3rd Annual Research Roundtable at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Professors Kate Bezanson (Brock University), Natasha Cabrera (University of Maryland), Shauna Cooper (UNC Chapel Hill), Nico Lacetera (University of Toronto, Institute for Management and Innovation), and Geoff Leonardelli (University of Toronto, Rotman School) debated the issues and highlighted the important intersections of gender, race, socioeconomic status and identity that shape parenting and paternity leave.

What are the benefits of paternity leave?

The arguments for supporting paternity leaves have frequently been linked to the benefits of fatherhood for children, fathers and households