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Finland to give dads same parental leave as mums (bbc.com)
683 points by SJSque 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 587 comments





I'm a dad (of three) and I am not convinced that time spent at the very start of their lives is as significant as that later in their lives (note the "as", I am not saying it has no value!) when you can really nurture their passions, knowledge, etc.

I did spend a lot of time with my children in their earliest days because it was the right thing to do, but I don't feel either they or I particularly gained from it (than if I'd spent a bit less, say). Do I feel the time I spend with them now they're older pays serious dividend for their futures? Absolutely.

I own a company and can spend an above average amount of time with my children.. but are companies or the government going to support the majority of parents spending prolonged periods of times with older children? Sadly I can't see it happening, but I think that's a more important task than having two parents on tap for a newborn. All purely IMHO, of course.


I think this is missing the point of equal parental leave and how it creates equality - it's for the mum just as much as the dad, so she can now get a bit of her life back earlier.

I took 3 months leave (wish it was more) when my daughter was born, spread out through the year a month at a time. I loved each month for different reasons and I know each month helped me understand what my wife was dealing with better and the slog of looking after a baby as well as the fun bits, and it helped her understand me better too - she really missed our daughter when she did a month's work and saw how going to work every day wasn't such great a holiday from childcare as she thought!


These policies have definitively contributed to a big social change. And while it looks on the surface like this is about "fairness for dad", on a macro level the changes mostly benefit women who want to both have kids and a career.

It's no longer a bigger risk for companies to hire late 20-s women compared to late 20-s men - both will go on leave if they get kids.

At my job, I also see way more dads staying home with sick kids or going to "planning day" or similar, compared to when I was growing up.


Maybe. As a new father, though, back to the office from parental leave, I'm not pumping breast milk in the lactation room. 3 times per work day, ~40-45 minutes a pop. This is something my wife is actively dealing with today and it causes her a lot of stress, due to the fact that she's essentially MIA on the job despite the fact that everyone is aware of what's going on and she has full support. The perception that she's not pulling her weight is potentially there, and she struggles with it herself because she also feels like she isn't pulling her weight. It's all really complicated and we'll never truly have equality here, I don't think.

> It's no longer a bigger risk for companies to hire late 20-s women compared to late 20-s men - both will go on leave if they get kids

True. But now it is a risk to hire people in certain age groups in general. Could this become a "don't hire married people in their late 20s and early 30s" incentive?


"don't hire married people in their late 20s and early 30s" incentive?" --> "Don't hire people during their most economically productive ages."

Not an economically viable strategy for any company looking to stay in business more than a year or two.


Surely whether it's "their most economically productive age" would depend heavily on how many children they have and how much parental leave they are allowed.

We know that people in most developed countries aren't even hitting replacement rate, so I don't think that 6 months of leave is going to break the bank.

In my experience, employees who are bad employees and blame it on time commitment to their children have usually been bad employees to begin with. I have a child, spend upwards of 4 hours a day with them on average, and work at a FAANG, while hitting promotion tracks more quickly than my colleagues without children. I know a bunch of people doing the same.


Ah, so "don't hire people who are planning to have multiple children at the peak of their potential economic productivity"?

> Could this become a "don't hire married people in their late 20s and early 30s" incentive?

Not for a good company. I've had several employees go on maternity and paternity leave. I've given them respect, and time, and money, in order to make this time of their lives as unstressful as possible.

I've done it because it's the right thing, but these people remember being treated well. They've come back to work and done very well. They feel safer knowing that their day job explicitly supports their families.

The time someone needs off work to care for a new family is a drop in the bucket compared with a whole career, or even a few good years spent at one company. Optimize for the humans, and for the long term.


So you had good people that you wanted to get back? Great. A lot of us employ people who are just average and cannot afford to pay them multiple thousands while they are on leave, paying someone else to cover them, and then they could always decide to leave anyway.

If you can't afford an employee going on paternity/maternity leave, you have an unsustainable business.

Or you have a small business. Not every company is a 10,000 headcount multinational. Over 90% of small business employ fewer than 20 people and small businesses make up 30% of the economy.

Realistically, 1 person missing from a small business can mean 10% of their workforce is gone - and due to the size of the company they may not have people to cover the missing staff.


If small businesses in general can't afford an employee going on [mp]aternity leave, that seems like an argument for socializing the cost.

You don't need to have 10,000 people working for you to be able to afford to hire cover for when people going on parental leave.

10 people or 10,000 people, if you can't afford your staff going on parental leave / long term sick / vacation, you don't have a sustainable business.


> if you can't afford your staff going on parental leave / long term sick, you don't have a sustainable business

You've never run a startup or small business. At the beginning margins can be razor thin, and unplanned or extended leave can have a huge impact.


There's plenty of small business owners who are perfectly capable of managing the risk of losing staff for whatever reason without it sinking the company. Many business run at a big loss when starting up, never mind razor thin margins. The ones that survive manage their investors, debts, cashflow and staff risk properly.

If you run a business on the assumption that you're going to have all your current employees working for you continuously for the foreseeable future, you're going to have a bad time.


Parental leave shouldn't be unplanned though, there should be several months of notice surely

The company doesn't pay employees while they are on leave, social security (or some equivalent) does.

It would at least least disperse the risk from "don't hire women of a certain age" to "don't hire people of a certain age" which I think is a win on the margin.

* Could this become a "don't hire married people in their late 20s and early 30s" incentive?*

No. The only real way to avoid this is to just not hire folks who can birth or father children. You'd be mostly safe hiring folks over 45 (Though men over 45 would be more risky than women). This probably isn't a good strategy for an employer.

Marriage doesn't lend itself to children: Having sex does. Having a stable relationship does. Adoption does. On the other hand, lots of married folks don't have children, on purpose or by circumstance. There is no real way to sort folks out.


I think it also establishes a connection between the dad and the kids that makes the dad a better parent down the road. At least spending a lot of time with my infants did change me enough to be a much better parent for the rest of the journey.

I very much agree with this. Having an extended amount of time where I was 100% responsible for my daughter made me feel very different compared to the time spent jointly looking after her. I hope it's made me a better parent.

Absolutely - and I love the change, in case that wasn't clear. But I think the motivation was about equality for the sexes - and specifically, making it easier for women to work. The rest is just a bonus. A very nice bonus.

I'm a dad in Norway too, and I think that's the wrong way to look at it. Getting on with their life? It's the time with your kids that's the bit of the life that's more valuable.

Likewise, trying to measure how beneficial it is for the kids sort of misses the point. I'm sure it can be beneficial, but whether they draw lasting benefits from it or not, they value it there and then.

You do get deeply attuned to your babies as a parent - at least, we did. You got uncannily good at guessing what they want, what they feel, from practice and from the biological connection that they are like you in so many subtle ways most people aren't. And of course, two parents will understand their babies in slightly different ways. They're very capable of appreciating this.


Equality before the low == not discriminating in the law.

Now if it say "mom has X leave after birth and dad Y", this is discrimination in the law.

Please note im not saying this is bad, im just saying it is NOT equality.


I'm an American who received several months of paid paternity leave when each my children were born (my company is an exception to the rule here in the US). It's not just about the child that is born, it's about your partner as well as your other children. The introduction of a new child is a huge shift for everyone in a family and being there to support your partner during that time makes a huge difference if you spend that time well.

But the biggest benefit of all was in the lives of my older children. When a new baby comes along, their mother is almost entirely occupied caring for the newborn (my wife wanted to exclusively breastfeed our children, so that is a lot of why it played out this way), so having me there to spend time with them each day during those first few months and take them places and reinforce the fact that they are loved just as much as ever was immensely important. I've seen so many older siblings change, develop resentment, begin misbehaving during that transition period. My kids all handled it extremely well and I think I played a role in that.

I sincerely believe every father should have paid time off when a child is born. It's not about one person in the family, it's about how the entire process of bringing a new person into the home affects everyone.


In Norway we get the paternity leave after the mother goes back to work. It is just the man for 4 months. When baby gets sick/teeths then it must be the man that is there with baby 24/7. You are describing a support role. The Norwegian model forces the father into the primary role.

It's amazing and really really hard.


But the biggest benefit of all was in the lives of my older children.

That's how it seemed to me, too. When my second child was born, I was working for Facebook so I got a nice chunk of paternity leave. My wife was breastfeeding, so she was basically with the baby all the time. The most helpful use of my time often wasn't to be the second parent in the same room as the baby, it was to go do something else with our 2-year-old so that he could still do fun stuff that the baby wasn't ready for, and so that at least my wife only had to deal with one kid at a time.


I think you miss the biggest point. This will have a significant impact on the wages of women. As suddenly women are not longer at a disadvantage when companies need to decide who to hire for a certain position.

That's only true if men actually take the leave, which in a large percentage of cases is not going to happen. The unspoken truth about leave is, you can forget about that promotion you were angling for if you take a couple of months of leave, for whatever reason. So men by and large won't take it, especially when they find themselves under pressure to earn more and provide. I did take my 6 weeks in the US though when we had our son 16 years ago, but only because he wouldn't sleep and the first few months were very rough, so career plans were put on hold.

Also, women will still leave the workplace in droves to care for newborns and the young. That's just what a lot of them prefer to do, and I think it's the right ordering of priorities, for both parents. There's really no way to properly rear young children if both parents have full-time jobs and actually try to advance their careers at the same time.

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SL.TLF.CACT.FM.NE.ZS?en...

That having been said, I'm glad this is being introduced. In difficult cases like ours, for instance, this would have been huge help, for reasons not entirely related to work.


I don't understand this argument.

A man and a woman can decide that whats best for them is that he not take leave, but for the benefit other people he should take parental leave.

Even if he enjoys working, even if the mother has decided she wants to stay home, even if they need opportunity that work brings (such as the opportunity to get promotions). Even if there are a hundred reasons for a man to not want to take leave, even if taking leave is worse for him, his partner and child, he must take leave so that other people who he may never meet have an advantage.

Yes, encouraging a few weeks off work is good for the family, but forcing someone to take 7 months off of work is massively disruptive. Not even to speak of the disruption on small businesses, that may not be able to accommodate a person leaving for that period of time. If you run a business of 10 people, a single person is 10% of your workforce, and just due to the size you may not have staff to cover the missing expertise.

Forced long-term paternity leave is a system, that explicitly harms the outcomes of one group (working fathers) to provide benefits to others (working mothers, and non-working people in general).


Frankly I would rather you be forced to take the 2 months off so that I can safely take it without people like you sneering at me the entire time.

Who is sneering? You can take 2 months off, you can take 2 years off. Take time off for children, sickness, holidays. Its none of my business.

What I am against is the government enforcing someone who must take time off from work, that may not be in their best interests.

I support your right to chose to take time off, and I support your right to not take time off too. I don't support the government telling you, you must take 7 months off at the cost of your career, because you taking time off helps others.


I'm pretty sure no one can force you away from your laptop and colleagues, but also, no one can force you to work. It's a protection. I like it.

> no one can force you away from your laptop and colleagues

But they can! The article talks about 2 months the father must take off.


It is just government sponsored leave, you can choose not to take it.

This big point and the big point that you can also be there for you partner. And the big point that you might, as a father, develop a tighter bond with the kid then you would otherwise.

I think you're right in that women's disadvantage decreases, but I don't think it vanishes entirely. As an example, consider the problems many women experience during pregnancy, which is likely to affect their performance at work.

Not to downplay the importance of your fathering and nurturing your child's passions at all-

My understanding of the research around personality development is that something like 80% (BS statistic I know) of the personality is formed in the first 5 years of development. The early few years are when we get conditioned with the core emotional programming: "I am safe" vs. "I am at risk" - "I am lovable" vs. "I am unlovable." etc. which plays a huge role down the line in lifestyle, relationships, and life in general.

Probably not a big deal whether it's the father or mother at the young age, but having adults around to be available to the emotional needs of the young child seems to be extremely important. Maybe easier to split the "full time job" of parenting in this critical period?

If you want to nerd out, check out "Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self - The Neurobiology of Emotional Development" by Allan Schore


80% of the personality is formed in the first 5 years of development.

There's just a huge difference between a 3-month-old baby, who can't recognize faces yet and spends most of the day sleeping and eating, and a 3-year-old child who is running, jumping, telling stories, making friends, and learning to read. For a 3-month-old baby, I doubt that parents do much more than a random babysitter. For a 3-year-old child, there is a clear difference.


My understanding is that the baby, equipped with only instincts / biological hardware, is hyper-aware of the raw emotional communication of their caregiver.

It's this really raw, basic emotional experience which shapes our "core" understanding of ourselves and the world we live in.

"Healthy" attachment in this early stage comes from the caregiver being able to regulate the emotions of the baby. If the baby doesn't feel connected to the caregiver - such as if when the baby cries they don't receiving loving reassurance of their safety - then they form a dysfunctional template for social attachments and poor emotional regulation ability.

If the random babysitter has consistent and parent-like loving connection with the baby then maybe you're right, but I doubt that's the case.


This is really wrong. My baby already recognised and was soothed by my voice and e.g. quieted in my arms much faster than the grandmother's at 2 months.

Research apparently indicates that being loved in your first year is key to your development.


Is your doubt founded in any research or more of a gut feeling?

We hope for "a 3-year-old child who is running, jumping, telling stories, making friends, and learning to read."

It could also be biting, jumping off of tables, hiding poo, poking holes in drywall, poking both ends of the dog, hitting sleeping parents with tools, and learning to scribble in books.


Children are haughty, disdainful, quick to anger, envious, curious, self-seeking, lazy, fickle, timid, intemperate, untruthful, secretive; they laugh and weep readily; the most trivial subjects give them immoderate delight or bitter distress; they wish not to be hurt, but they like hurting others: they are men already. – La Bruyere, Characters (1687)

> something like 80% (BS statistic I know) of the personality is formed in the first 5 years of development

And how much in the first five months?


Hey, good question. My gut says to go reference that book I mentioned and make a guess for you. The author talks about the different stages of attachment and how it affects the forming brain. I'll try when I get home tonight.

I view it from a totally different perspective -- I took 2 months off at the start (and my wife left her job a while before that). Since we had no hired helper (nanny or doula) during that time and had limited grandparents help, it was mostly the 2 of us baby-caring during the first 2 months. It was both rewarding and exhausting, and we both agree that it was the most physically-intense time of our lives, to the point where I don't know how either of us would survive without the other person also being there.

I honestly don't know how parents who have to go back to work do it (especially in a family where one parent goes back to work very soon). There's so much work for the mother that without the father also being there, it seems to me it would create a major rift in the relationship when it comes to understanding what the other person is going through. I theorize that the father not being there (and being at work) during those early months is a foundation of the collapse of a spousal relationship years down the road, for many couples.


I'm guessing that most people have (or create) a support network. Their parents might move closer, they join parenting groups etc. so that there are people to watch the babies, give you help etc.

Of course there are people who don't have that but that is a sad state whether you have children or not.


My wife took her FMLA (unpaid) leave directly after pregnancy, then I took my (company benefit, paid) 16 weeks after that- with a two week overlap so that I was comfortable with all the work necessary. It meant that the kid spent the first half a year of his life with a parent providing care every moment, which was great, something that I am so grateful for, and something that I wish every parent could have an opportunity to have.

While I agree that the benefits of involved parents are most notable for kids at an older age, I think that the effect on the parent is largest at the beginning. Humans don't demonstrate their love by providing care, they provide care that turns into love. It is in the unrequited acts of service like changing diapers, feeding (bottle or breast), and rocking to sleep that build the parents feelings for the kid.


Swedish parental leave can be saved until the kid turns 12. Not that the 480 days will last that long, of course!

That sounds like a good idea and what I think would be better for everyone. Of course, then it's a case of avoiding the temptation of taking it too early(!) :)

If you wait too long, it's hard to find time that isn't taken by school already :-)

From another comment, it looks like the father only gets half, but I assume you get weekends off too. Sweden also has 25 days of vacation.

I have a kid about every 600 days. (have 12 so far) Out of that 600 days, it looks like I'd work just 164 days. It would be 2-day weeks for decades.

That is quite a way to run a country. I think it only works because there are very few births in Sweden.


Basing policy on 99.99 percentile sized families would certainly be odd.

Policy would change what the 99.99 percentile is. If having a large family means that you don't have to work, many more people might do it.

Is that per parent or is it shared between parents? That really sounds incredible, going to have to remember to look this up.

It's 240 days per parent.

That's incredible. That's something the rest of the world should strive for.

It might not be significant to a baby, but it surely is significant for the mother (presuming dad helps her, and not just sits around the house), and less stressed-out mothers are in turn good for babies and the family in general.

This all the way.

I mean, I also think it's significant for the baby & dad. But even ignoring that.. holy shit does the mother need support.

Maybe some moms don't, maybe they happen to have an easy baby.. have parents closeby to easily help.

But other mothers have a terribly difficult time, post-natal depression.. you name it. Having the dad around for support means everything during that time- I can speak from experience.


I've learned over the last few years that much of the parenting that parents do is far removed anything that can be seen. Anything that you can conclude is a direct function of your influence amounts to a very very low percentage of your actual influence. Not that I disagree with the importance of influence in the later bits, but so much of what a child is learning for the first time is all the subtle stuff you don't realize you're doing. How you and your spouse resolve conflict, and you and the child resolve conflict, and you deal with your own emotions, facial cues, body language, regular language, music taste etc

When kids a smal it is more the parents that enjoy the time with them. One, because it is just simply great. And because the workload caused by small kids is distributed between both parents. Because kids are stress. But yes, once they grow older, time with them gets more fun, simply becasue you can do more with them then just feeding and changing diapers. Which I did, a lot.

Agree. I spent five months home with a small toddler of around a year of age. He did get very attached to me, but let's face it, their needs at that stage are very simple. Actually, I think he got much more out of kindie subsequently, getting to play with and be around other kids and adults much more.

The experience of paternity leave is quite intense. It's not all fun. E.g. long nights when baby is sick or teething and the baby's mum has to go to work the next day so she has to sleep and the long night goes straight into a difficult day.

As someone that thought I spent a lot of time with my baby before starting pappperm it was an awakening - but also a wonderful bonding experience.

Yes time as a baby is important. Dad's shouldn't have to wait until their kids grow up before they get to know them.


Or what about the mother damaged by the birth not able to take care of the baby so the father is doing it all for the first month(s), both day and night?

I would largely agree.

In a dark humoured way, and beyond the essential need to create an unbreakable bond beyond infant & parent, you can be replaced and better optimised by an iterated Roomba. :)

But with each passing day/year the desire/need to spend time with your kids should grow.

Our kids are teenagers now>

And I agree that it feels like an hour spent with them today provide all of us more value than an hour spent with them as infants/toddlers.

Both are important, but I think I’m less replaceable today than yesterday.


It is so hard to know the effect on the children. But the effect on your spouse of having someone else around to help? The first couple of months are tough!

When we had our first child (in Sweden), we could divide the time (13 months total) freely between the two of us. Then we got some extra money if each of us took more than 30% of that time. I think they stopped with the money bonus, but it was really great for us.

We are now having our second child (now in Norway), and while the father quota is great, they now require the mother to be "in activity" (i.e. working) if the father is to have anything more than his quota. This feels like an unnecessary restriction, which we didn't have in Sweden.


This should be the norm in all of the developed world! As a freelancer I took a self-funded three-month break (it just finished) when our third child was born and it has been amazing. I wish that I'd been in a position to do the same for my other two children too.

Firstly, we're trying hard to close the gender pay gap. Giving fathers the same amount of free time as the mothers goes a long way here.

Secondly, it's fantastic for the father-baby bond and it makes both life and work as a young parent so much easier.

Thirdly, the cost is not large. Businesses are already absorbing the lost productivity caused by the fathers being exhausted. This formalizes it.


> Thirdly, the cost is not large. Businesses are already absorbing the lost productivity caused by the fathers being exhausted. This formalizes it.

In our project management course we learned a rule of thumb that for new parents you have ~25-30% less FTE available during the first year of the child's life (due to care for sick children, getting sick themselves, being exhausted from lack of sleep etc.)


This seems like a sound argument for avoiding hiring people who might become parents soon. 30% less output for the same amount of pay seems like a bad deal for an employer.

The employer will be fine with 30% reduced output.

> Thirdly, the cost is not large. Businesses are already absorbing the lost productivity caused by the fathers being exhausted. This formalizes it.

Exactly! And in both Norway and Sweden you can be part time on leave. For some time I had 25% leave, which meant that I was working, but could go early when tired from a long night of baby cries or stay at home one day when my wife needed to get something else done. And this time I will be on 80–90% leave, which means I am at home, but can pass by the office once a week to catch up with my students.


That 90% is ideal! My wife owns a business with > 100 employees, that's basically what she did during her pregnancy leave. Having me home made that possible (or at least easier, she's breastfeeding.. and that takes a crazy effort to get going).

Yes in Norway I as a father only got 10 days in total due to that rule while in Sweden I would have got 240 (if split equally), quite a difference.

Until very recently unless the mother was working the father got nothing. It only changed because a European Court ruled against the government.

It make sense to have such restriction if the goal is the break the culture that allow/force women to spend time raising the child and allow/force men to spend time at work in order to support the child.

I'm a US male who's 1 month into my 6 months fully-paid paternity leave with our first child.

My wife has roughly 4.5 months between banked PTO and FMLA/disability leave.

I'm sitting at home right now watching/changing/feeding our baby while my wife is out at doctor's appointments taking care of her health. Having the flexibility to practice a modicum of self-care without neglecting the health and happiness of our child has been such a huge boon to our family.

If anyone has any questions about the experience, feel free to ask.


What happens to your responsibilities at work while you are out? And are you totally cut off from work while you are out or are you occasionally responding to mails? Also are you more of an individual contributor or have a leadership role?

I was/am an IC on a medium-sized team. I had a project I was the primary contributor for within that team that I've handed off to my teammates to continue (after writing up documentation and doing some knowledge transfer).

I occasionally log in to read my email to keep up-to-date with happenings among the team, but I haven't needed to respond to anything since I went out.

Our team made an effort in the last year to reduce some of the silo-ization of knowledge and increase our 'lottery factor', and I think those efforts have helped make sure that the team was prepared for one of us going out on leave. At the very least, nobody has called me up saying "hey, your systems are on fire!", so that's been nice.


First time I'd seen it called the "lottery factor." I like that much more than the "hit by a bus factor."

Thanks for the reply!

6 months paid? Holy cow. Even 1 month would seem like such a luxury to me.

It's been a pretty amazing workplace benefit to have. My wife and I remark to each other on a daily basis about how lucky we are to be able to be home together to take care of the baby. We're planning on having at least one more child and I can't see myself working for a company that doesn't have a similar leave policy.

Would you have taken 6 months off without pay to do what you are doing now?

If I could afford it, absolutely. In reality, my mortgage and other financial commitments would likely have necessitated me going back to work.

What we likely would have done instead is staggered my wife's medical leave with a shorter chunk of my own PTO rather than both of us being home at the same time, and put the baby into childcare earlier than we're currently planning on doing.


If you are a bet receiver of funds, who is the net giver?

I don't understand the question. Can you elaborate?

If you dont have the money to take 6 times off, who is giving you the money to do so?

The basic economic question of giving someone money is that you are taking it from someone else. Is it childless employees? Is it taxes? Is it the unemployed?


Your question makes it sound like he's stealing from someone by taking paid time off to be with his child. In reality, the money is coming from a corporation, who presumably has already costed the risk and is willing to accept it.

Moreover money is not zero-sum. The way you talk about it, there's only a finite number of dollars in the US and he's stealing some from someone else. This is not even remotely how our economy works. And frankly that's a crazy idea that could be applied to all kinds of things. For example, by working you're stealing money from your employer who could easily spend that money on himself. How dare you work?


> In reality, the money is coming from a corporation, who presumably has already costed the risk and is willing to accept it.

Then his salary, and the salary of all the employees have been lowered to provide the benefit. That means employees without kids pay for the parents.

> Moreover money is not zero-sum.

A handout is definitely zero-sum. But even if it isn't, the entire benefit of that handout is captured by the receiver, not by the giver. So its an even worse reason for an employer to give parental leave.


Making the claim that parental leave is zero-sum assumes that I'd be working at full productivity for those 6 months, which based on my current sleep schedule even without work obligations, I definitely wouldn't be.

My employer can either pay me for 6 months of work and get a substandard work product while I suffer sleep deprivation, or they can pay me for 6 months of leave and get me back recharged and ready to work at the end of that leave, when my child is sleeping through the night.


Or perhaps they use the benefit to attract better competence? Higher pay vs a more secure work life balance is of course the decision to make here, and seems like op of this thread made a decision. What are you trying to proove?

In my case, I get a paycheck from my employer as usual. I'm not sure how the specifics work; my employer might pay a premium to a private insurance firm and receive reimbursement from the firm when employees go out on leave so that they're not paying salaries of people who aren't working for them. But at any rate, the cost of providing this leave is similar to other non-mandatory benefits provided by a company (like health insurance), which gets rolled into the cost of doing business and likely gets passed on to our customers.

My wife's leave comes from our state's short-term disability insurance program, which I believe draws its funds from state taxes.


In Germany it is the parents who get the leave and they can freely decide who takes the 12 months of it. Even better yet: If they decide to split they get an extra of two months, so 14 in total.

And it usually ends with the mother taking 12 and the dad taking 2, and these 2 being spent on a longer vacation somewhere.

There are many reasons, it seems to me that external circumstances are shaping a lot of them.


Yeah that's a pattern you see in most places with any kind of shared pool. The father takes a small, frequently the legal minimum time, and the mother takes the rest. Ultimately it kind of makes the most sense because it is the woman that's gone through the most work of giving birth and is a natural food source for the kid but it does perpetuate the issue of women's careers being set back by having a kid.

When they have that much freedom, can you really call it "perpetuating the issue" instead of "doing what they want"? It's not an issue for the women who prefer to do it, or they wouldn't be doing it.

It's not entirely a choice it's socially usually seen as weird for the guy to take more than the minimum or some small portion above that in many of these places. And even if it is a completely free choice (when do those ever exist?) the impact to women's careers extend beyond the setback from leaving the workforce for several months because they're still expected to do more of the labor of child rearing.

edit: To expand ultimately societies and governments need women to have kids, as of now they're the only ones who can after all so I think eliminating as many downsides as possible to that is something that should be done.


It's an issue for everyone. When you can expect any younger woman to suddenly take a year off they become a larger hiring risk compared to men. Equalizing the parental leave time changes things also for those without children.

Finances.

In the new system in Finland, both parents get 6.6 months, of which they can give up to 69 days to the other parent. But in other words we can also say that both parents get 4.3 months, and then there is 4.6 months that they can divide between themselves.

In Czechia, there is similar approach to paid parental leave, but it is up to 36 months.

I think that this is much better to left it to parents to decide how to split that based on their personal preferences, than to force equal split in all cases.


Is there more to this, or can you really just be employed to make babies? Most couples can produce another baby before the leave expires.

In Germany it's not restricted to just parents. Could also be the new grandmother taking a few month off.

Do parents typically work at the same workplace? How does this work across employers?

Generally, the parents work in different places of course.

As parental leave is a legal right (not given by the employers), employers simply have to comply with the parents' wishes. In the past employers often frowned upon men taking parental leave, but the younger generation has absolutely normalized this behavior.

It should also be noted that during leave, the government picks up (part of) your regular paycheck - so you don't cost your employer anything while you're not there. (except administration overhead etc)

The parental leave doesn't have to be taken in one block and you can also convert it into 'parental part-time'. A somewhat common pattern that double-earning professional parents choose nowadays that I've seen with some of my team members is something like: 1. simultaneous leave for both partners in the 1-2 months after birth 2. leave of one partner for a few months after that while the other partner works full-time 3. a few months of simultaneous part-time (e.g. 3/days week) where on any given day, one partner is at home 4. full-time work of both partners for a while once the kid is old enough for day-care 5. another month or so of simultaneous parental leave after 1-1.5 years that's used for a vacation.


In the tech worker's paradise that is California, I'm preparing for my generous two weeks of paternity leave. My co-worker, having not been employed at the company for a year yet, is preparing to burn all four days of his vacation time because he's not entitled to paternity leave yet.

This is broken.


As a tech worker in California, your income is triple to that of a Finnish tech worker. You can easily take unpaid time off for your paternity leave, perhaps even quit your job for a year, and still get out ahead.

Tech isn't a carve-out where there are fewer protections from the state. I pointed out that I was a tech worker in California because we normally get better protections than most Americans. In this case, even for the well-protected California tech workers, there are few legal protections, if any. For other Americans it will be just as bad.

If you've been with your company for less than a year, you are legally entitled to zero days of paternity leave and if you take unpaid time off, your job is not protected.


1. Cost of living in the bay area (capital of tech jobs) is a lot higher too. 2. Many companies aren't used to the idea of unpaid time off, and negotiating for one can be difficult. 3. Quitting for a year sounds fine until the end of that year, when the stress of job hunting rises. The interview process for most tech companies, even in 2020, is obnoxious at best, and you could be a rockstar engineer and still have trouble landing a job offer for months if luck is not on your side.

There are a lot of workplaces that will simply not allow someone to take months of unpaid time off work. A woman will be eligible for some medical time off (generally unpaid) - but the father (or non-birthing parent) generally cannot take time. The main exception I see to this in most employee handbooks is time off for adoption.

Now, this is talking in general and not about tech per se, so if someone is really lucky they work at somewhere that doesn't expect them to do work every week to keep their job.


...and his living costs are probably way higher too, so it's not a fair comparison.

I think it's fair to say even if we adjusted for lower US taxes, higher livings costs, that the Californian worker would be far better ahead still.

There is a reason the entire Silicon Valley doesn't pack up and move to Finland. The money is in California right now.


There are cheaper places to live if someone wants to take a year off. I guess even in California some not too distant downs are much cheaper than SV.

> perhaps even quit your job for a year, and still get out ahead.

exactly! Single payer universal health insurance will also take care of the numerous doctor's visits that follow. Oh wait...


It's hard to be enthusiastic about American labor practices hearing anecdotes like this. I think my quality of life would improve by immigrating to a country that provides the benefits like healthcare and childcare as a right. This is because even though I would likely take a salary cut of over 50%, I would have access to the sorts of intangible life experiences that are difficult or impossible to price. For example, raising my child for the first year of their life, living for another decade.

Spain is progressively doing this. Starting 2021, men and women will have the paid same parental leave of 16 + 2 weeks (non-transferable).

The main reason is fight against the discrimination from employers who think hiring women is inconvenient because they can go on parental leave for very long.


I believe men have 4 months of parental leave in Spain already, starting 2020.

It was 8 weeks on 2019, 12 on 2020 and 16 on 2021. Plus now men can also request "Lactancia" which adds an extra couple weeks.

Good job Finland! Fellow Nordic here (Norwegian) and a dad. The father quota here in Norway made a huge social change. It really helped make it socially acceptable for dads to spend more time with their children.

I noticed for my two sons how much of a difference it makes being around your kids when they are young. You cannot cannot substitute short time with "quality time." The amount of time you are there matters a lot to small kids.

I think it is healthy for children to have both a mother and father who is actively present in their lives. You need a gender equality oriented society for that. If women are offered poor pay and opportunities it encourages women to stay home the whole time while men do all the work. That is bad for both parties. Men see little of their kids and kids don't get the experience with dad that they benefit from.

Meanwhile the mother may get a lot more time with the kids but she also suffers from having no career or independence. The relationship also suffers as one does not have a work life experience and child caring experience to share and talk about.


Its also good for the dads!

"Globally, paternity leave can increase fathers’ involvement within families and this has benefits for the children, the co-parent, the father himself, the economy and society."

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/16/involved-d...


It's definitely good for the dads. Quality time with my baby is huge; I can tell how she is bonding with me with each moment we spend together, and I despair that I don't get these extended leaves the Finns have.

This was someone we definitely noticed about Norway when we were in Oslo for a week.

There was so many dads just walking around the city/parks in the middle of the day pushing prams. It was so nice to see.


sigh

I suppose none of them have to deal with people dismissively describing spending time with their families as "babysitting", either.


I clap back hard on that when people do it to me. No, I am not babysitting, I'm parenting. Thankfully, it seems to be happening less and less over time.

Nope, never heard that.

> I think it is healthy for children to have both a mother and father who is actively present in their lives.

Not sure how literally this was meant (and a lot of the rest of the thread assuming a mother/father) but studies show kids do just as well with two parents of any gender.


Not sure how literal your statement was meant, but some parents are non-gendered, non-binary.

We shouldn't exclude them either.

Every mention needs to include a long list of every possible combination, no matter how rare and edge case. /s


Inclusion is as simple as saying "parents" instead of "mother and father." If you'll read my post again you'll see the wording did include those groups. Maybe examine why you have such a violent knee jerk reaction to these groups being mentioned.

My comment was far from "violent" and knee jerk and had nothing to do with the groups in question. It was a parody of the woke virtue signalling that is trying to shame others for every possible perceived slight no matter the rarity of the edge case.

At least 5 percent of the population is not a super rare edge case, and even if it was people who are edge cases still deserve recognition. Nobody was getting shamed either, it was just a consideration. If we had it your way we'd all be perpetually censored from bringing anything up that didn't immediately pertain to 99% of people. When someone says a wheelchair ramp should be built somewhere is your response that they should stop virtue signalling about edge cases and shaming the "normal" people, or is this response reserved for LGBT concerns?

>When someone says a wheelchair ramp should be built somewhere...

You mean when someone says -or signs- that we should build a wheelchair ramp?

Some people are deaf and can't speak. Let's not exclude them.


Please cite the studies. It seems at least impossible that babies of a male-male couple could do as well as those where the baby is raised by its biological mother even only because of the advantages of breastfeeding.

Please cite the studies on breastfeeding. Most show very little long term benefit (meaning, excluding upset stomachs in the first year of life and similar).

Example article:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jun/20/is-brea...


Such newspaper articles are of limited use because they don't cite the studies they refer to. No one's gonna buy the author's book to verify her statements.

You also have to consider that women are sometimes bullied into breastfeeding even when it's very hard for them and that is the author's main message. Otherwise she still thinks that "breast is best": "Breastfeeding seems to improve digestion in the first year, lowers rashes for infants and is especially important for preterm babies. It also seems likely that it has some impact on reducing ear infections in young children and lowers the risk of breast cancer for the mother."

"Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect" - https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6...


None of the above appear to confirm that breastfeeding creates a long term benefit?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/02/06/children-...

Breastfeeding is one of many variables and formula has come a long way.


That was not at all as conclusive as I was expecting, for several reasons:

* it's study not studies

* it refers strictly to educational performance

* it's likely detecting something else entirely: "The researchers found that same-sex parents are often wealthier, older and more educated than the typical different-sex couple. Same-sex couples often have to use expensive fertility treatments to have a child, meaning they are very motivated to become parents and tend to have a high level of wealth. This is likely to be a key reason their children perform well in school, the economists found" [...] "When the economists controlled for income and wealth, there were a much smaller gap between the test scores of children of same-sex parents and children different-sex parents, although children of homosexual couples still had slightly higher scores."


Regarding the third point the conclusion still supports what I said, that there's no big gap.

A basic google query will get a ton of results. Here are a few.

Overview of 75 studies: https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equali...

https://thinkprogress.org/same-sex-parenting-study-age-25-67...

https://qz.com/1320434/new-research-debunks-old-science-abou...


This has turned into a time sink with no upside for me. I've looked at some of the articles you posted which are pretty low quality. They seem more concerned about winning some USA-only political points than discussing the topic in an objective manner.

If you're making the effort of linking to studies that support a specific statement, please link to the actual studies and not opinion articles about them.

In any case, I would not expect kids with same sex parents to do worse in school or have noticeable psychological issues, which is what these studies were looking for - these are pretty heavy issues after all.

But I would expect that they are slightly worse for subtler reasons: maybe they're a bit more prone to infections in the first years because they weren't breast-fed, maybe they're distressed in school because they're being subtly bullied (mentioned in one article, btw) and so on. Remember that the original claim was "they're no worse", not that they're not much worse. I agree that they're probably not much worse, but a male-female couple has thousands and thousands of years of social support and nature on its side. Of course it's going to be in some ways better.


Yeah the system where parents can split the time sounds great but it kind of inevitably winds up with woman taking that majority of the time because ultimately it really makes sense if you have a zero-sum amount of hours to share for the woman to take most of it because she is the natural food source for the kid and has gone through the actual trauma of giving birth and ideally gets time to recover from that.

> I noticed for my two sons how much of a difference it makes being around your kids when they are young. You cannot cannot substitute short time with "quality time." The amount of time you are there matters a lot to small kids.

I agree as well, but not so much in the ages of 0-6 months. The biggest bonding for me when I was on parental leave was definitely with my older children, who I was now the primary caregiver. That time was really special and meaningful to all of us.

Don’t get me wrong. I love holding my new born, but (for me) it wasn’t the same type of bonding experience.


> The father quota here in Norway made a huge social change. It really helped make it socially acceptable for dads to spend more time with their children.

If the parental leave policy were taken away, would parents take more or less time to spend with their kids than before the policy took place?


[flagged]


Independence is the most important value in Norway. So probably one reason I mention it ;-) We value the independence of everyone. Independence of young people to make their own choices. Independence of women to marry or divorce regardless of what she wants.

> What is so wrong with being dependent on your spouse when raising children together that it should even come up as a consideration?

Seems obviously bad to me. Should your spouse leave you or die, and you are totally dependent on him, that would suck. But that was not really what I was thinking of but rather the ability to be financially independent later in life because you actually had a career.

> Raising children well is hard enough and time consuming enough as it is. Why try to make it harder by also trying to make sure neither parent is dependent on the other?

I think you misunderstand what I said, or thing about this in a very different way from me.

With the system we have in Norway with leave for both parents and both parents having a career, we are able help each other out MORE! Child raising is LESS work for my wife because I can help her out. Meanwhile I would have less stressful work life because my wife also has a job and can help out the family financially.

It seems to me like we are making life easier for both of us. It is hard for me to grasp how you conclude that this will make things harder.

Your logic seems to be that depriving my wife of any career or financial security she is forced to stay with me. That is some pretty screwed up logic. I want my wife to be with me because she wants to not because she cannot survive without me.

And for children it is better. I know what Norway was like in the old days where the mom stayed home and the dad worked. By not involving the dad, and only have him provide financial security, a lot of men back in old Norway were big assholes. They ran away from their family responsibilities.

You don't see modern Norwegian dads do this. Families may be divorced but dads still participate in child raring. They have been their from the start and child raring is seen as a shared responsibility. There are a lot more divorced families in modern Norway but there are a lot more dads taking responsibility and looking after their kids.

They take turns through the week picking up kids at school. They stay part of the week with their dad. It means mom gets more spare time to live her life. And ultimately you get happier families because people live together because they want to, not because they have to.


>Should your spouse leave you or die, and you are totally dependent on him, that would suck.

A) Don't have children with someone that is going to leave you, B) life insurance.

>But that was not really what I was thinking of but rather the ability to be financially independent later in life because you actually had a career.

Why is that desirable? Would society not be a better place if many more people were dedicated to helping their communities rather than making money for corporations?

>With the system we have in Norway with leave for both parents

To be clear, I'm not opposed to the idea of family leave for fathers.

>Your logic seems to be that depriving my wife of any career or financial security she is forced to stay with me.

Choosing to marry someone and have children with them is a permanent choice, and one that should not be done flippantly if you want what is best for your children. I don't understand why you think it is beneficial to optimize for enabling spouses to divorce. It seems to me that it would be a better idea to optimize for having people marry and have children with someone that they are very unlikely to want to divorce later.

>I want my wife to be with me because she wants to not because she cannot survive without me.

If you want what is best for your children, you should pick a spouse that would not consider divorce except in the most extreme circumstances, and you yourself should not consider divorce except in the most extreme circumstances.

>And for children it is better.

It sounds like what really changed in Norway is that fathers have changed their attitude toward child rearing. That, I think, is unambiguously positive for children, but seems to me to be entirely orthogonal to having both parents be independent. Parents can be sole financial providers and still take a very active role in raising the children. That is more about the attitude of the parent than anything. If you believe it is not your job to rear children, you are going to do it poorly whether you work 60 hours per week or 0.


A society where fathers are used to and expected to participate more actively in child raring will also care more about their children IMHO. Such a society is hard to build without gender equality and independence for women.

I don’t see low divorce numbers as a direct goal. I view happy families as the goal. Lower divorce numbers will follow from that.

If you optimize for low divorce numbers you simply force women to stay in unhappy marriages.

You seem to advocate a sort of 1950s style family life. I don’t think that is good for anyone.


>A society where fathers are used to and expected to participate more actively in child raring will also care more about their children IMHO. Such a society is hard to build without gender equality and independence for women.

I don't see why that should be so. Men need to think that it's important for their children's growth for them to be heavily involved in raising them, but I don't see why that should necessitate women being financially independent or achieving "gender equality", whatever that means. For example, if men believe that there are some critical aspects of child raising that simply cannot be done correctly by women, I think men would take a more active role in order to make sure they're able to provide their needed input, but I would guess those sorts of beliefs are contrary to "gender equality". I could actually see it making things worse to tell men that women are as capable of all aspects of child rearing as are men, because then why can't the woman just do it all?

>I don’t see low divorce numbers as a direct goal.

I don't either. The goal is a stable and happy society full of adults who were raised in stable and happy homes. Low divorce numbers are an essential element of achieving that.

>If you optimize for low divorce numbers you simply force women to stay in unhappy marriages.

That depends on how you try to lower the divorce rate, I suppose. If you make divorce a crime punishable by death and change nothing else, ya that's what you're going to end up with. If on the other hand you encourage people to avoid lifestyle choices that are associated with divorce, you will end up with fewer divorces and happier marriages.

>You seem to advocate a sort of 1950s style family life. I don’t think that is good for anyone.

Women reported being happier back then, so it seems like it was good for them at least. Who do you think that wasn't good for, and why?


I agree, I was wondering what kind of incentives governments could create to motivate parents to stay together...

The current systems are not just suboptimal, but actively harmful - they make parents enemies, in case of divorce often one "wins" and the other "loses" (depending on the legal system, either the higher-earning parent wins by not really having to pay any child support, or the lower-earning parent wins by earning huge child support + alimony on top). A better system would penalize both parents, thus motivate them to cooperate to maintain the family unit.

The other issue is, this would have to be balanced out by the fact that sometimes, it's likely better for parents to split/divorce... obviously in case one of them is violent, but even in other cases, they might just not be a good fit, in terms of interests, lifestyle, personality, ... and splitting gives each of them the opportunity to find someone better fitting, and lead happier lives (which should likely carry over to a more positive influence on their kids).

I think shared custody by default does part of this, it keeps both parents in the kids' lives.

Edit: I'm not a lawyer, so my comment "depending on the legal system" above is only based on anecdotal evidence from friends and/or media... the "not having to pay child support" is an example from Slovenia, the "huge child support + alimony" is based on some examples from the US.


You must be describing the American system. That does not sound like Norway.

I really do not understand the premise of your question. Yes, there is nothing wrong with one of the spouses being a home maker that is dependent on the monetary support of the professional spouse if this is what they want. But to turn your question around, what is so wrong with having other options!?

Of course at the end being in a relationship and having kids is a partnership and people should rely on one another, nobody ever argues against that. But when people want, they should have the option to do it in a new way, especially if that leads to more opportunities and happiness.


I agree that nothing's wrong with making the choice to be a stay at home mother (or father), especially when children are very young and not at school. But as a society we have organised ourselves in such a way that this choice is economically and socially much harder to make than it used to be and in my view much harder to make than it should be.

One of the problems in particular is that it is far too hard for people to come back to the workplace after taking a 5 or 6 year career break to look after children while they're young. People know this and it too often forces them into one of two paths - give up on their career entirely, or go back to work much sooner than they wanted to.


>But as a society we have organised ourselves in such a way that this choice is economically and socially much harder to make than it used to be and in my view much harder to make than it should be.

Sounds to me like we should make a conscious effort to reverse the changes that have been made lately, then, and also take a hard look at the motives of the people that have pushed us in that direction.

>One of the problems in particular is that it is far too hard for people to come back to the workplace after taking a 5 or 6 year career break to look after children while they're young.

I don't see how that is a problem. It takes a lot of work to maintain a desirable society, and I would guess most of it is not done at the behest of a corporation.


The difficulty of coming back from a career break is a problem because it turns something which needn't be a binary or one off choice (stay at home with children vs work) into a binary and irreversible choice. And I'd bet that those who feel forced into that choice choose career over staying at home with their children more often than the other way around as a result.

>And I'd bet that those who feel forced into that choice choose career over staying at home with their children more often than the other way around as a result.

Perhaps, I don't know the numbers, but either way, that is not the way it's always been, and it's clear that many people for a long time have been actively trying to increase the number that pick that option. We should carefully look in to who those people are and what motivates them, and then ask ourselves if we want our people taking their lead.


What is wrong with having other options is that there is a cost associated with maintaining those other options, and the children will be paying it one way or another.

Raising children well is enormously time consuming and difficult. Parents who want to do a good job don't have the luxury of abundant time and energy. Any effort spent maintaining these other options is done at the expense of the children.


This is a generic defeatist premise. Yes, if we do not try to make the world a more pleasant place to live in, the world indeed will not be a more pleasant place. And yes, poor people (and right now even middle class people) do not have the luxury to have the choice I depicted, or many other choices. But it is worthwhile to have our institutions try to change work culture for the better, exactly so that these options become feasible, both for the middle class and for the even less lucky.

Or to rephrase it in your way: there are costs to maintaining these other options, and I am happy to see that there are governments trying (and occasionally succeeding) to pay these costs.


The government can't pay those costs unless you are suggesting some kind of communal child raising situation rather than having children raised by their parents. Raising children well requires a lot of time and effort. I don't think it's defeatist to acknowledge that. If you want to try to improve that, find some way to raise children without needing so much of their parents' time and energy and without sacrificing quality.

A number of issues with what you said:

- daycare (including fancy stuff like daycare on your work's campus where you can join your kid in between work activitie)s is a great idea that has already been tested

- it is perfectly reasonable for the extended family to help with child-rearing, especially in location where there is a history of that

- It seems crazy to me to suggest we change the ways we raise children, without suggesting changes to the ways careers progress. Even without my hippy suggestions about idealistic version of childcare, a comparatively trivial thing to do is to realign employee and employer incentives. And there are governments that do that successfully. This is why I am calling your comments "defeatist".

Stop projecting your view of the world on everyone: yes, your view is consistent and reasonable, if the homemaker is happy with the arangement, but it is not the only possible way to have a healthy family.


Daycare, the act of handing your infants and toddlers over to minimum wage workers who do not care about your children on an individual basis and who are also supposed to be taking care of several other children, is not a great idea, or even a good idea. It's a bad idea. For any decent parent, it would be a last resort before giving the children up for adoption.

Yes of course it's great when the extended family can help. That doesn't happen much in the modern world. It would be great if it did though.

>a comparatively trivial thing to do is to realign employee and employer incentives. And there are governments that do that successfully.

What does that mean? I think it's defeatist to want so many people slaving away for corporate masters rather than spending time with their families.

>Stop projecting your view of the world on everyone

I don't know what that means. I'm not going to stop advocating that people make lifestyle choices that I think are best, because as a father of a young child, my child is going to grow up in a world populated by the children that are the result of the lifestyle choices people are making today, and I would prefer for him to be surrounded by people that have been raised as well as possible.

>but it is not the only possible way to have a healthy family.

It is by far the best way to ensure you have a healthy family that we know of.


I do not know where you are coming from, but our surroundings must be extremely different. This is why I am saying you should not project your assumptions on everyone.

Why do you assume that daycare staff are minimal wage workers as opposed to well paid professionals that know more about intellectual enrichment and child psychology than the average parent?

Why are you assuming a career means "slaving away for corporate masters" as opposed to a myriad of ways one can work to enrich the world around them while at the same time being paid (academia, small business, art/design work, community work, the vast majority of lifestyle business, social purpose work, solving intellectually interesting technical problems, etc)? There are people that love their creative jobs, and we should not pretend they are unicorns or that they have to sacrifice their child's upbringing.

What you describe sounds borderline selfish to me. I get you are trying to suggest something good, but a person can make the world better (and even be paid for it) without compromising how much they care for their child.

Maybe I am talking like that because I am privileged and have an easy life. But then why not advocate that our communities try to make more people's lives easier?


>Why do you assume that daycare staff are minimal wage workers as opposed to well paid professionals that know more about intellectual enrichment and child psychology than the average parent?

I didn't assume it, I looked up what they tend to get paid and what qualifications are typically required to have that job. They tend to get paid around minimum wage, and they typically only need a high school diploma.

>Why are you assuming a career means "slaving away for corporate masters" as opposed to a myriad of ways one can work to enrich the world around them while at the same time being paid (academia, small business, art/design work, community work, the vast majority of lifestyle business, social purpose work, solving intellectually interesting technical problems, etc)?

Because that's what most people do.

>There are people that love their creative jobs, and we should not pretend they are unicorns or that they have to sacrifice their child's upbringing.

I'm sure there are some people like that, but the vast majority of children do not have two parents that fit in that category.

>What you describe sounds borderline selfish to me.

It is explicitly so.

>I get you are trying to suggest something good, but a person can make the world better (and even be paid for it) without compromising how much they care for their child.

Maybe some can. Most people aren't going to make the world better through their corporate job, and are going to compromise on how much care they give their children in order to do it. It doesn't make much sense to set society's expectations so that they only really work for exceptional people. They will do fine. They need to work for regular people.

>But then why not advocate that our communities try to make more people's lives easier?

I do advocate that. Raising children well so that they are not a problem for other people later in life is part of it. Encouraging stay at home parents to work to build their community once their children are old enough not to need full time care, rather than going back to being a corporate drone, is another thing I advocate.


Please demonstrate this cost and how children would be paying for it. Please use sources.

If you want both parents to be independent, then (for the vast majority of people who are not very wealthy) of course both need to be employed or able to quickly become employed. Do you need a source for that?

Both of those take time, and that's time taken away from the children, which parents do not have in abundance. Do you need a source for that?


> both need to be employed or able to quickly become employed

Not particularly 'quickly', really.

Keeping it so both parents are able to be employed only requires corporate culture changes, and minor ones at that. The cost is very small and does not hurt children.


Most people don't have enough in savings to last more than half of a year without a job. I'd call that "quickly".

You could try to stop corporations from preferentially hiring people who have recent relevant experience, but I am not going to hold my breath on that.


A preference is fine, if it's in proportion to how much experience from the last couple years is actually worth over experience from 7 years ago. So maybe $5k less in initial salary.

The preference for someone having zero gaps in employment is extremely overrated, and giving many more people gaps in employment to disrupt that idea is great.


You did not answer my questions nor support your claims.

Not all costs are monetary. Do you need a source for that?

It's far better to have it and not need it than to need it and not to have it.

That doesn't mean that it's a good idea to have it.

New Zealand is currently at 22, but moving to 26 weeks paid parental leave for babies born from July 1, 2020.

The paid parental leave is up to the parents to decide the split between them.

I think it is a great idea for fathers to be encouraged more to take a share of the paid parental leave.

This could go some small way in helping remedy income disparity between genders.

I was deployed and/or travelling a lot when our boys were young.

Another poster questioned the value of time with infants as opposed to when they are older.

I do think bonding with infants and toddlers is super important for both parent and child.

But it can also feel like a robotic and laborious grind.

As my boys enter high school, I most enjoy our ritualised time together during daily school drop offs and pick ups.

Engaging with them, guiding them on their own journey, and observing how far they have come.

I have few regrets, but one of them is not spending more time wth my kids when they were younger, which probably feeds the extra effort in recent years to spend more time with them as they grow into young men.

You can’t get time back. Make the most of every minute.


The US, federally, already gives dads he same parental leave as moms.

(It's crap, but it's the same crap.)


Do you mean employees of the federal government? How long is the leave? Is it paid?

> Do you mean employees of the federal government?

No, I mean most workers, under FMLA.

> How long is the leave?

12 weeks.

> Is it paid?

No.


In letter, yes. Try claiming it and see what happens.

I have. Twice.

Another step towards equality pay (so the risk of moms and dads leaving on parental is the same). This is not obvious, but after you think about it it makes a lot of sense.

Congrats Finland.


> Neighbouring Sweden has Europe's most generous system of parental leave with 240 days each after a baby's birth

That's working days or what? In Latvia (Estonia neighbour) you may get 12 months (60% of money calculated from amount BEFORE taxes) or 18 months (43,75%). And dad can leave, too.

https://likumi.lv/ta/en/en/id/38051-on-maternity-and-sicknes... Section 10.6. Amount of Parental Benefit


Also Sweden gives ~80% of normal income. If you mean 60% of [income before tax] without taxes, thats pretty good.

> If you mean 60% of [income before tax] without taxes

Yes. And +171 Eur no matter what.


Working days.

I'm glad this exists. When I had my kids I worked white collar jobs for large wealthy corporations, and I got exactly zero days each time. This attitude change is a step in the right direction. The problem is the people who in my opinion who need this the most (the working classes) are the ones least likely to get it (at least here in America).

That’s why these things should be national as far as we can support them. Healthcare being a perk of employment was a mistake from taxing only profit.

This is great news!

With the current direction of US politics, as a US citizen, I find myself increasingly entertaining the thought of becoming an ex-pat.

Top countries I've thought about have been the Nordic countries - Finland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland and have considered the Netherlands as well.

They seem to have reasonable blended economies with social policies that make (more) sense.

No country/systems is perfect and I'm always willing to try something new for a time.


I am in the same boat (pun intended). Just the cost of delivery without complications (>$10,000 on average in the US [0]) makes the prospect of having a child in a country with socialized healthcare economically sensible. Think of how much that $10,000 could be worth if invested in the stock market instead of in a healthcare plan's yearly revenue.

[0] https://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-hav...


Submitter here. I'm a British chap living in the Netherlands. You might want to read my comment [1] about what happens after you have a baby over here; it triggered quite a lot of discussion...

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20884787


Germany has this and is awesome. 14 months paid leave to distribute among the two parents.

Doesn't look like the same thing though. Here it's clearly talking about non-transferable time.

Yeah, looks different. On the other hand, Sweden has something similar.

Dads get 6 month non-trasferable paid leave.


Do we know yet if it has it resulted in an decrease in the gender pay gap and other effects?

It hasn't, or at least the media's whining about the gap as much as everywhere else.

14 months or weeks?

It's months. Amazing for employees and terrifying for employers. Someone I know took a new job somewhere, only to let them know a week or so after being there that his wife was about to have their child and he was going to be gone for the next 14 months.

They were not going to be able to fire him without repercussions. He was not required to let them know during the interview.


The company is not the one paying for that, so it is not as bad for the company as you are saying. Chill.

but they still need to get his job done

Hence temps. Or they can redistribute the salary as overtime. If there are enough interested workers.

They just employed someone for a full time job because they needed to spend €x on someone to do Y work

Now they don't have to pay that money, which is fine, but they then need to find someone on a 14 month contract that will do it for the same salary as the person they just employed.

Then at the end of it they are left with paying an overlap from the contractor to someone new


First, a little nitpicking: one of the parents can take at most 12 months off, so there is no "14 month contract".

Second, the whole thing can be way more complex. In Germany a mother has her job secured for the moment she announces to be pregnant to until the child is 3 years old. So one could decide that will take the Elterngeld for 12 months but actually just go back to work 18 months, and the employer has no way of stopping it.

Third and final point: NONE OF THIS MATTERS! Trying to find the "fairness" in this is nothing but some incredibly naive exercise. Like most things in life, salaries are not determined by the amount of value produced but rather by market value of labor. Risks when dealing with labor force should be already priced in.


Sure, and the policy is good, but there is still an impact on the company. Most situations that will be a large company which can easily cope, but in small companies struggling to survive is can have an locally detrimental effect (despite the company benefiting from the policy as a whole)

What makes you think that the small companies are struggling to survive? And from all of the policies in Germany that exist to "protect" the employees (minimum wage, employer share of pension contribution, health insurance, etc) what makes you think that this particular policy deserves such special concern?

How does anything get done?

If it were a three person company, one person is now gone for 14 months and legally can’t be replaced? A nightmare for the other two employees.


You can hire a replacement on a 14-month contract.

If your company can deal with an employee getting hit by a bus / winning the lottery and quitting, then it can deal with an employee taking maternity/paternity leave.


What if the replacement has a pregnancy? Do they also get the 14 months leave?

You can't assume nor demand every company can deal with an employee getting hit by a bus. Not every company is a big corporation.

Example: our childcare facility employs two people, and replacements are VERY difficult to find at the moment.


Noone is demanding that. If the company can't get it done without the person taking parental leave they simply have to sink or swim.

Like with any other law regulating worker benefits and worker safety. But companies know that starting out and have to plan and act accordingly. That's the cost of doing business.


It's only the "cost of doing business" because of man made arbitrary laws. It doesn't have to be the cost of doing business. Why do you claim "noone is demanding that", when in the next sentence you just shrug it off as "they'll just have to sink, whatever". If the alternative for the business is to go out of business, it is "demanding".

Businesses are not at fault for their employees getting pregnant, so why should they have to shoulder the risk? If society wants to protect mothers, society should pay up, not the individual businesses.

Are you saying people shouldn't run childcare facilities? Or only huge childcare facilities are allowed, which certainly wasn't the intention of the laws for maternal leave?


> If the alternative for the business is to go out of business, it is "demanding".

Then don't hire employees in a region/country that has good employee protection laws/regulations. If businesses want to operate in such a region/country they will have to comply with ALL the laws and regulations there. If they don't, they should operate in a (in this respect at least) third-world country like the US.

> Businesses are not at fault for their employees getting pregnant, so why should they have to shoulder the risk?

Reproduction is integral to society. I businesses don't want to have that "risk" they should only hire people old enough that they can be sure they're barren/impotent but then they're discriminating in their hiring process AND get employees that are already relatively close to retirement (i.e. not a good idea).

> If society wants to protect mothers, society should pay up, not the individual businesses.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave#Europe_and_Cent... -> Germany since it would to me if I had children. 14 weeks maternity leave with full pay, 14 months parental leave with up to 67% or the maximum (1800€ per month according §2 (1) BEEG) specified by the law. In Germany this monetary responsibility is mixed (social security AND employer).

> Are you saying people shouldn't run childcare facilities? Or only huge childcare facilities are allowed, which certainly wasn't the intention of the laws for maternal leave?

???, this was never part of my argument. Going back to your comment I originally replied to, many many businesses and branches of business have difficulty hiring people but that doesn't really matter here.


"Then don't hire employees in a region/country that has good employee protection laws/regulations."

Not very practical for childcare facilities?

" If businesses want to operate in such a region/country they will have to comply with ALL the laws and regulations there"

The point is that laws can be changed. Here in Germany especially, we are very aware that laws are not automatically good. We went through this period of time where a lot of bad laws were in place.

"they should only hire people old enough that they can be sure they're barren/impotent"

Or, you know, men? Which is exactly what the feminists governments want to avoid, but they bring it about with their paternity laws. Also, what you suggest is technically illegal in most Western countries (discrimination).

Sorry, but I get the impression you haven't really thought much about these issues yet.

"14 months parental leave with up to 67% or the maximum"

Yes, the government pays mothers, but it doesn't compensate businesses for the losses they incur when women they hired leave for motherhood. They just have "punishing" laws like the job position has to be kept open in case the mother wants to return. That is a punishment for businesses, who are not at fault for women having children.

"this was never part of my argument."

You just dismiss it if certain types of businesses struggle. I explicitly mentioned childcare facilities because I have experienced the problem firsthand.

The point is that laws can have unintended consequences. And those don't go away by simply saying "the business should just go bankrupt or operate in another country".

"many many businesses and branches of business have difficulty hiring people but that doesn't really matter here."

Of course it matters, it means the cost of hiring women is even higher, because replacing them is expensive.


>How does anything get done?

What about the case where the guy leaves because is cool in software engineering to change jobs very often? or because now language X is cool and the guy wants to add that on the CV and not your old boring language Y.

In any case your employee can leave so make sure you are not dead because most of the value is in this person head. Though you might as always make a counter offer and pay him much more if he is so valuable.


In Norway you also don't have to pay their salary... Makes hiring a fixed term replacement a little easier and often the replacement turns out to be a good fit and if you want to grow you now have a four person company.

>only to let them know a week or so after being there

Don't these fall under "experimentation/probation" period, where you can fire without reason?


14 months, but it is a little bit more complicated than what OP implies.

The mother gets 14 weeks (6 weeks before due date, 8 after) that is the "proper" leave and is mandatory for the mother.

After that, one or both parents can choose to take a leave where the government pays you 2/3 of your net salary, capped at 2000 EUR. If only one parent takes then it is limited to 12 month and it is extend to 14 months in case both parents decided to take it.


(edit: why is this -2? I was asking a serious question!)

>14 months paid leave

Certainly you meant weeks... FMLA only covers 12 weeks of unpaid leave here in the United States.


Nope - it really is about 20000€ the government gives to families.

Wow, threads on here constantly make me wish I lived in Germany as it sounds like German has really awesome employment protection too.

In my opinion, the best protection is to have valuable skills. I personally see no good reason for employment protection. I live in Germany, however, as a freelancer I get no protection at all. Why do some people deserve it, and others don't? What makes an "employee"?

I can understand having to "insure" against the risk of becoming too specialized. Like if you work for one company for years or decades, it might be difficult to find employment elsewhere. However, that insurance should be factored into the contracts "employees" are willing to accept. Likewise as a freelancer, I have to ask for a certain minimum amount of money to cover my risks.

Even for employees the protection might have downsides. They are stuck with inefficient coworkers who can't be fired.If you are young, you'll have to leave before people who are older. And employees might stick to jobs where they are not doing their best for too long. And overall, creation of business is hampered, which hurts everybody.

Just some thoughts.


"gives" after taking almost double in taxes. And I will surely have more years paying tons of taxes than paternity leaves.

Forgive them, Milton, for they don't know what they are saying.


Never fail to mark a net gain for humanity as financially ineffective obstacle. You know there exist some middle ground between dysfunctional socialism and brutal capitalism? Those places are comparably a paradise for common folks like most of us.

To be treated with respect like a human being and having overall a good life is still a privilege in 21st century.


> You know there exist some middle ground between dysfunctional socialism and brutal capitalism?

This is so far from the point of my comment, it really illustrates how people will view and comment based on the their preconceptions and worldviews before any attempt at rational thought.

I am not saying that the social program is bad. What I did try to point out is that there is no real "giving" of anything. That is all. We cool?


What do you mean by "taking double in taxes"? Yes, parents also pay taxes, although usually less than single people because of the "split income". It is still a net transfer of money from single people to parents. (Not only for parental leave, also schools for example, or even free childcare in many places).

I mean that literally. OP said that the govt pays up to 20000 EUR in Elterngeld, and I can show you tax returns where I paid almost double that in a single year.

I don't get what is so difficult or controversial about my statement here. Whether Elterngeld or "free" childcare, there is no "giving" by the government of anything, that is all.


I don't understand your logic. You would have paid those high taxes regardless of Elterngeld. You didn't pay those high taxes because you received Elterngeld. Therefore, if you receive Elterngeld, you receive it from other people.

Yes, the government doesn't "give" money, it redistributes it. Some other people are paying for your Elterngeld. Even if in your head you assume that it is paid from the taxes you paid, the money you received for Elterngeld is now missing for other things, they are a loss for the rest of society.


I think we are in agreement for most of the things. I am glad to see we agree that the money from the Govt is not "given" to the people. This was the point of my first comment.

I just want to disabuse you from this idea you seem to hold that the money I received is from "other people".

It is not. It is from the Government. Sure it was taken from all of society via taxes, but once it is taken it is no longer yours or mine to determine what to do with it.

There is no point in trying to argue who-paid-for-what in this redistribution made by the Government. If there were a choice for tax payers to say where they want their taxes to go, sure let's go and talk about "Who is paying for my wife's Elterngeld". But there is no such rational and efficient resource allocation method in any Big Welfare State, is there? There is no way to pull apart who is "me and my family" and who is "the rest of society", is there?

There is just - like you said - one big redistribution of wealth driven by bureaucrats who are (allegedly) working in the best interests of the people. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.


I think you can certainly say that some people benefit more than others from the "redistribution", even if you don't account for every single spending. There are certainly people who pay more than they receive.

In the case of family support, it is clear the non-parents receive less than parents. If there are no things (or fewer) things that non-parents benefit from that parents don't benefit from, then it is a net loss for non-parents. (Non-parents could for example benefit more from government sponsored care of the elderly, which might in part be taken care off by children of parents).


I don't want to keep repeating myself, but it seems you are either venting your frustration for feeling like you are not getting back what you put in (you probably aren't) or completely missing the point of what I was saying up-thread.

So, let me try different words: of course this redistribution is uneven. The point of socio-political programs is never to be "fair", no matter how much they say it is. So stop worrying about it.


I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

In which part of there is no point in trying to argue "fairness" in who-gets-what if "fairness" is not the point of the Welfare State am I losing you?

Your original claim was that parents don't really get "Elterngeld", because they pay for it themselves in taxes.

No. My comment was just an ironic way of saying that there is nothing "given" by and from the Government. Whatever is "given" is actually taken from someone else and redistributed. I thought that was clear already.

to late to edit, but I meant "taken from everyone and redistributed"

I’m curious what what happen if someone wanted to have ten kids and abused this system, and the mother didn’t work.

At a gut I feel like I’d be less likely to have kids, not more, if I felt like I was burdening other people by accepting benefits like this. I have no worries as an American having as many kids as I want because I make a good salary, can afford them, and won’t take more than a weeks, maybe two weeks time off, as my wife, despite being just as qualified for software engineering as me, wants to stay at home and raise children. Heck, I won’t even be “overburdening” the school system as my wife is home schooling them, despite living in a “good” school district.

Being charitable I’d hazard the point of this is to encourage population growth, but I suspect it’s playing out more like “have two kids and that’s as many as you should have”, and any more would introduce strong social pressure to stop.

Maybe it’ll work out that lots more Finns will be born, I’m curious to see how it goes in twenty years.


> I’m curious what what happen if someone wanted to have ten kids and abused this system, and the mother didn’t work.

Don't take this the wrong way, but that is such an American way of thinking. You guys are so preoccupied with thinking about somebody getting something they don't deserve that you forget about thinking about what is good for everybody else.

Consider this, Nordic countries have generous public services in all walks of life. If we applied American logic to Nordic countries we should expect the following outcomes:

1. Nobody works, because unemployment benefits are so generous. 2. Everybody is on never ending education, because education is next to free. 3. Everybody has 10 kids because of long parental leaves. 4. Everybody is sick and unhealthy because nobody cares about their health because hey health care is free.

Of course no Nordic countries is anything like this. We have the highest work participation rate in the world (more than supposedly hard working Japanese). Nordic people are quite healthy and live long. Most people just have 2 kids. The average birth rate is something like 1.7 to 1.8 in Nordics. In other words we are under replacement.

So our system definitely helps getting more kids as countries with less generous services have much lower birth rates. Look e.g. at developed asian countries how terrible their birth rates are. Yet the generous system does not lead to some abundance of kids.

Let us get real. Having kids is a lot of work. I love my kids to bits but I don't want more than two. I also enjoy my work and other things. So does my wife. Why would we want tons of kids? Some weirdos probably do, but so what? Why should not I and other Norwegian benefit from a great system because a couple of oddballs exist than abuse the system?

Put some trust in your fellow man. People are not all selfish and self centered assholes ready to take, take and take whatever they can get their hands on.


To be fair right wing governments have put time limits on things like paid for higher education.

It is amazing how Europeans like to make fun of Americans for their supposed ignorance of political matters, yet they manage to boast this kind of non-sense that GP wrote. Elternzeit can be for up to 14 months, but it comes with lots of restrictions: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22247242 It is not some kind of "cash-for-kids" system that turns wombs into goldmines. Even Kindergeld (~220EUR/month for every child until they are 18) is not really profitable.

As to your gut feel: once you get used to the idea that the Welfare State is something that you can not opt out of and how strong it is at leveling out society, I am sure you wont feel like you are "burdening other people". After I moved here and started leaving 43% of my paycheck to the government, 14% to income-based (not actuarial risk based) health insurance and paying 19% for VAT and seeing how little I was keeping of that "good software engineer income", I started worrying less about my burden and more about how I could get some of my fair share back.


> ...“have two kids and that’s as many as you should have”, and any more would introduce strong social pressure to stop.

I live in Denmark (but I suppose it's somewhat similar in Finland), there is very little social stigma to recieving support from the state.

Because such support is everywhere: child care is supported, parents are given money for each child under 18, when you turn 18 you get educational support, university is free (in fact you get educational support), when graduating you get unemployment support the next month while looking for a job.

I don't think we think of receiving benefits as burdening others, it's more a matter of solidarity. Most people more or less pay off the cost they incur to the state through taxes. So accepting benefits isn't shameful.

Note. it is possible to not get benefits, my little brother said no to educational support during highschool (while he was living at home). It was ~200 USD/month -- but he is a special case, most 18 yearolds do not say no to free money :)

(My little brother later did accept educational support during university ~1k USD / month).


Sweden has an even more generous system and our birth rates are below 2, so... I'm not worried for Finland.

The thing is, kids are damned expensive today. When you are not working, you are forgoing "normal" salary. The mother will get ~80% of the pre-pregnancy salary, up to a limit which is not very high. There are afaik no "virtual salary increases" here, at all. We even have "barnbidrag" and "flerbarnstillägg" meaning you get a small amount of money per month per child, and that amount goes UP with more kids. So if you have 7 kids you get even more money per child than if you would have 2 kids. Still nobody has 7 kids to "make money", because its still a loosing proposition. There is a template about how much a kid costs here until theyre 18, and its about $104,000.

Sure, you could stay at home and being poor for 10 years or so but how much fun is that really? =)


"abused the system"? Fertility rate in Germany is 1.50 at the moment. Every new child will be a precious asset to sustain the future pension system.

Freedom of movement means you can look at the EU rate.

Immigration moves people about quite well.


"We shouldn't make things better because one person might do something weird at some point".

I mean, really, how do people think like this?


The goal is probably more to reach equal pay/opportunity as opposed to any population growth agenda.

When I was in the EU, I knew a woman who had 4 kids, each ~1/1.5 year appart. So she would have a kid, be out 6 month, go back to work for 6 month, have another kid, rinse and repeat 4 times :) .

It was a total nightmare for her employer because they couldn't let her go, and they couldn't hire anyone permanently to do her job. They could only use short term contractors who would stay 6 months (barely enough time to get up to speed) and then leave. I don't know if she was "abusing" the system, I mean, it was her right by law to do that, but after popping the 4th one she left work to be a stay at home mom. I don't know how well her employer took it :)


A smart employer would have hired someone full time to have slack. Especially after the 2nd kid.

Makes sense. Having kids is one thing, but what if she got hit by a bus. You should never be that dependent on any one person. And there are many lines of work where having the employee take some time off helps with making sure that they're doing their work properly and not hiding something. You just have to plan for it.

I don't believe it was that simple. Technically the full time position existed and hiring someone else would have required finding long term budget for another one. It was in a country were firing people is very difficult when they're on a permanent position so when you hire, you have to be sure you can make it work.

what is the cost to the employer of hiring another person just for “slack”?

Looks like it would lead to bloat & waste


Not sure that this was the real intent. Germany was notorious for having many stay at home mothers.

So women had to chose between family and career, which partly explains the low birth rate. Actually it is still the case because school finishes around 2 pm, so many parents (often the mother) have to work part time because of that.

An indirect consequence maybe a decrease of the gender salary gap, but I doubt this was the main purpose...


Could you imagine if you had a really important job you needed doing and the person you hired pulled this. Honestly I'd probably "Expand the team" of people doing the job to two, get the not-a-replacement up to speed and just chalk it up to the cost of doing business that people can play the system like this.

Perhaps it makes more sense when viewed from the perspective of the child?

Every child has the right to spend time with their parents. Every child has the right to an education. And so on. You should not be given less parental time just because you were born with nine siblings. It's not your choice.

I believe the "unwashed masses having lots of children and draining the wellfare systems" is a quite popular far right anti-immigration trope. And while that may even be true somewhere, as long as it remains individual cases, the economic impact on society is still net positive as long as those kids get an education and a job.


According to statistics increased education leads to lower number of child births (and later). At least from what I've read.

So it's all connected, free school and good social support.

As a parent you can never make a profit from it anyhow. There are of course people who don't know how to work and actually don't want to contribute. But they are far apart.


Having both parents be economically unproductive for an extended period of time is clearly not a tenable arrangement in the long term. But the long term, in this case, is measured in tens of generations. In the short term, most developed societies are more than wealthy enough to shoulder such a burden. People would still probably get looked at weird for having tons of kids, but that already happens anyway.

> I’m curious what what happen if someone wanted to have ten kids and abused this system, and the mother didn’t work.

The easy solution would be to have this set up for the desired number of children. 1-3 children: 100% of the benefits, >3: 20% or something similar.


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