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Expand chart
Reproduced from World Policy Center; Map: Axios Visuals

Parental leave is steadily becoming ubiquitous around the world, but workplace cultures in many countries continue to prevent employees — especially fathers — from taking time off.

Why it matters: Paid leave not only benefits families but also makes people more likely to re-enter the workforce, experts say. And in the U.S., as the labor market tightens, robust time off policies for new parents is emerging as one way to attract talent.

What's happening: While the U.S. is an outlier, other developed nations in Europe and Asia do offer extensive leave. Still, there's a gap between passing laws and actually getting people to take the time off.

  • Often firms in the U.S. and elsewhere stress "putting the company above all else," says Kate Weisshaar, a professor at UNC, Chapel Hill. "The culture of a workplace can contribute to who feels like they're safe to take leave or take full leave."
  • Just this week, Shinjiro Koizumi, a popular Japanese politician, made a splash when he decided to take paternity leave. New fathers get up to a year off in Japan, but only about 6% of eligible men working at private firms took it in 2018, per the New York Times.

In a recent study, Weisshaar tested employer perceptions of parental leave by sending three types of resumes and cover letters for open roles: people who currently held jobs, people who stated they were unemployed due to layoffs, and people who said they had chosen to stay home for a while to take care of children.

  • The resumes of the stay-at-home parents performed more poorly than those of the unemployed applicants, she says. And fathers were less likely to receive callbacks than mothers. "That sends a pretty strong message that employers care about this."

The big picture: There's a strong economic case to be made for parental leave — and paternity leave specifically, Barrons' Matthew Klein writes.

  • The wage gap between men and women is exacerbated by the fact that mothers are expected to take time away from work and care for new babies alone. We could chip away at that gap if men and women received the same amount of leave, Klein notes.
  • And in a new working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists studied how parental leave in Denmark — which has one of the most generous policies at 52 weeks of paid time off — affected companies' bottom lines and found no economic impact. It's worth noting, though, that the researchers did not examine the cost of paid parental leave to the government.

The bottom line: "The culture of being family friendly is one of the amenities of a job," says Heather Royer, an economist at UC, Santa Barbara, and one of the authors of the NBER paper. "Having family leave and having people take it creates this feeling that the firm values like outside of work, and that can make people happier when they're working."

Go deeper: Corporate America is pressured to boost paid parental leave

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
5 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Key clean power provision likely won't survive in Dems' spending bill

A construction worker walks along a dirt road at the Avangrid Renewables La Joya wind farm in Encino, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2020. Photo: Cate Dingley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A pillar of Democrats' plans to speed deployment of zero-carbon electricity is likely to be cut from major spending and tax legislation they are struggling to move on a party-line vote, per multiple reports and a Capitol Hill aide.

Driving the news: The New York Times, citing anonymous congressional aides and lobbyists, reports that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has told the White House he "strongly opposes" the Clean Electricity Performance Program.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Fatal stabbing of British MP David Amess declared a terrorist incident

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Authorities have declared the death of David Amess a terrorist incident, hours after the Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K. was fatally stabbed while meeting with local constituents in a church in eastern England on Friday.

The big picture: The Metropolitan Police has found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Biden: DOJ should prosecute those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas

President Biden speaks with reporters at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that the Justice Department should prosecute those who defy subpoenas from the Jan. 6 select committee.

Why it matters: The president's remarks come one day after Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon failed to show up for a deposition before the committee.

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