By Boseong Yun
The New York Times reports on the infeasibility of paternity leave as an institution. In “Paternity Leave: The Rewards and The Remaining Stigma,” Clair Cain Miller shows that the paternity leave, despite its benefits to the families, is simply not practical.
Miller explains the positive impacts of taking paternity leave in her article, “men…are likely to be more involved for years to come and that their children will be healthier. Even their wives could benefit…women whose husbands take paternity leave have increased career earnings and have a decreased chance of depression in the nine months after month.” This reveals that the paternity leave does have positive impacts on the health of wives and children with more husband participation in the family.
Despite these benefits, however, Miller further shows that taking paternity leave is not an option that many can afford. More specifically, men are discouraged from taking paternity leave due to potential negative effects on their career. For instance, Miller asked for opinions from a lawyer working at a large corporate law firm, and he replied, “How are you going to service your clients? What’s your level of commitment to the firm?” This shows the cultural perception that men who take paternity leave are not dedicated to the company, and this inhibits men from taking paternity leave. Choosing to take paternity leave for the family accompany costs that harm their career. In fact, the White House Council of Economic Advisers mention that the third of male workers say that they have no option to take leave, and that the percentage of paternity leave has dropped by five-percentage point from 2010 to 2014.
While Miller shows that there have been various programs and initiatives undertaken to encourage taking paternity leave, the number shows that the impact has been minute. While there may be various reasons behind this pattern, it is important to notice that taking paternity leave seems to accompany economic costs for men in the end, and also how economic costs are also intricately tied to caring for the family. For some men, bringing in more money for the family may be a priority, while some men may think taking paternity leave may be more important for the family. In order to resolve this issue, there should be more research on the impacts of taking paternity leave on the long-term with empirical evidence, also how this directly affects gender inequality issues.
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