8 December 2021

Does earmarked paternity leave shape gender norms?

Gender equality

Despite considerable progress over the past decades, women still earn significantly less than men. Research has shown that children are a key reason for the remaining gender wage gap, as the arrival of children has large, negative and persistent effects on the career trajectory of women, but not men. The Carlsberg Foundation has granted Jakob Søgaard 4.5 mio DKK to extend our understanding of preferences and provide valuable information to policy makers on the design of parental leave and public policies more broadly.

Baby on arm
Stock photo from Colourbox

These facts have created a broad push for policies that change gender norms and increase fathers' role in child rearing. Central among such policies is earmarked parental leave with the recent EU directive that requires all member states to implement at least 9 weeks of earmarked leave by August 2022 as a salient example. Our results will shed light on the success of this policy agenda and inform the debate on the cost and benefits of earmarked parental leave.

Jakob Egholt Søgaard will with this his new project both push the research frontier on our understanding of preferences and  provide valuable information to policy makers on the future design of parental leave and public policies more broadly. With few exceptions, it is standard in economics to study policies and formulate policy advice based on the assumption that individuals respond solely to the changes in incentives, while preferences are stable across different policy settings. However if instead, preferences are formed by social norms and these are amendable to changes in policy, then the standard approach of considering public policy through a lens of narrow economics incentives may potentially be highly misleading.

This project will take the first steps in developing a framework for normative policy analyses when preferences are endogenous to the policy setting.

Jakob will work on the project from 2022 to 2026. You can follow his work on the project page.