A study found that after men in Spain took paid paternity leave, they were less likely to have kids in the future.
In 2007, Spain introduced a policy giving new fathers two weeks off work. In the first year, the new law was popular and about 55 percent of men eligible took the paid time off, a study recently published in the Journal of Public Economics states.
In 2017, the amount of paid leave was doubled to four weeks and increased to five weeks in 2018. The Spanish government is planning even more increases by 2021, according to Spain's El Pais newspaper.
The study looked at the original 2007 policy and its effects on families with children just before and after the policy was introduced.
Researchers found that the earliest group of men to benefit from the paid time off policy were just as likely to stay in the workforce as men who weren't eligible. They remained more engaged with childcare after returning to work, and the mothers in these families were more likely to be employed six months after childbirth, the study states.
Additionally, the study also found that families who were eligible for the newly introduced paid paternity leave were less likely to have kids in the years ahead.
In the study, economists Lídia Farré of the University of Barcelona and Libertad González of Pompeu Fabra University estimate that it “significantly reduced the likelihood of having one more child” in the following two years by 7 to 15 percent, compared to parents who just missed the eligibility cutoff.
The effect was still present after four years, with eligible families between 1 and 5 percent less likely to have had another child, the study found.
Even after six years, parents who had been eligible for the policy were still less likely.
Farré and González provided a possible explanation why.
The paternity leave period may have raised the men's awareness about the costs associated with raising children, or from their time with the child, it may have “shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality,” the study states.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.