Men in Spain Want Fewer Kids After Experiencing Paternity Leave

The men, as the researchers put it, began to "shift their preferences from child quantity to quality"

Paternity leave
Paternity leave made men in Spain want fewer kids. (Getty)
Getty Images/Westend61

Most new fathers started to experience the joys of paternity leave in Spain in 2007 when they were awarded at least two weeks off work by law.

At first, the new policy was popular, with 55 percent of eligible men taking advantage. Then, in 2017, those two weeks doubled to four and jumped to five in 2018 with even more weeks expected to be tacked on by 2021, Quartz reported.

But a study — published in the Journal of Public Economics — conducted by economists that started before the introduction of the policy in 2007 and continued after found that, while the earliest beneficiaries were just as likely to stay in the workforce as their non-dad peers, the new fathers remained more engaged with their family lives at home, which enabled their partners to return to the workforce as well.

However, the researchers also noted that that families who were eligible for the paternity leave were less likely to have more kids in the future. Two of the leads on the report think they know why.

As Quartz explained, economists Lídia Farré and Libertad González believed that spending more time with their children —or the prospect of having to do so — may have made men more acutely aware of the effort and costs associated with raising children, and, as they put it, “shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality.”

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