Mental Health Consequences of Migrant Fathers’ Parental Leave Use: A Swedish Policy Analysis

Helena Honkaniemi , Stockholm University
Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, University of Glasgow
Mikael Rostila, Centre for Health Equity Studies
Sol P. Juárez, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institute

In Sweden, parental leave use has been associated with various health benefits, allowing mothers time to heal from postpartum complications while encouraging positive “family-friendly” behaviors among fathers. Yet as with other welfare arrangements, the parental leave system is designed for the working population, potentially minimizing benefits for individuals with weak labor market attachment and conflicting gender norms, such as migrants. Recent migrants, especially fathers, have been found to use less parental leave than native Swedes, with longer residence associated with increased use. However, whether migrants benefit from the health protections of parental leave is unknown. The aim of this study will be to quasi-experimentally assess how migrant fathers’ parental leave influences both fathers’ and mothers’ mental health, using a policy instrument as a source of exogenous variation. We will specifically examine the 1995 “Daddy quota”, a policy which reserved one month of parental leave for fathers, irrespective of their nativity or labor market attachment, to isolate the health effects of parental leave use from those of other integration factors. Interrupted time series regression will be applied to Swedish total population register data to explore potential reductions in risk of psychiatric hospitalizations among first-time migrant parents of children born before and after the reform. Sub-group heterogeneity analyses by region of origin, duration of residence, and parents’ employment will also be implemented. Our findings will contribute to the literature on the health effects of migrant integration and welfare marginalization, as well as motivate the role of parental leave in integration policy.

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 Presented in Session 46. Policies on Parental Leave