Work and care opportunities under different parental leave systems: gender and class inequalities in northern Europe
- Publisher: Wiley
This article analyses public parental leave in eight northern European countries, and assesses its opportunity potential to facilitate equal parental involvement and employment, focusing on gender and income opportunity gaps. It draws on Sen’s capability approach and Weber’s ideal-types to comparative policy analysis. It offers the ideal parental leave architecture, one which minimizes the policy-generated gender and class inequality in parents’ opportunities to share parenting and keep their jobs, thus providing real opportunities for different groups of individuals to achieve valued functionings as parents. Five policy indicators are created using benchmarking and graphical analysis. Two sources of opportunity inequality are considered: the leave system as the opportunity and constraint structure and the socio-economic contexts as the conversion factors. The article produces a comprehensive overview of national leave policies, visually presenting leave policy across countries. Considering policy capability ramifications beyond gender challenges a family policy-cluster idea and the Nordic-Baltic divide. It demonstrates that leave systems in northern Europe are far from homogenous; they diverge in the degree to which they create real opportunities for parents and children as well as in key policy dimensions through which these opportunities are created.
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