Gender Aspect of the Historical Development of Childbirth-Related Leaves in the European Former Socialist Countries

Ivana Dobrotic, University of Oxford
Nada Stropnik , Institute for Economic Research, Slovenia

This paper aims to investigate the gender dimension of childcare-related-leaves regulation and policy reforms in the European former socialist countries in the last half a century. The focus is on why, when and how the gender equality aspect was considered in the parental and paternity leave design. We collected information for 21 countries (11 current European Union Member States, other five ex-Yugoslav countries, Albania, and four ex-Soviet Union countries) for the period from 1970 to 2018. Using a historical comparative analysis, we investigated the leaves’ characteristics, such as eligibility rules, duration, benefit levels, flexibility, etc. Our analysis puts additional light on the contexts behind significant leave policy reforms, particularly as related to two breaking points: 1) transition from the socialist to the capitalist regime, and 2) the European Union accession. We position the countries in four types of leave policies, taking into account the indicators of “mother-centeredness of the leave” and “father incentives”. In the period of socialism, the childbirth-related leave was mother-centred. Childcare/parental leaves became available in the 1970s, first as the mother‘s right and later transferrable to the father. The leaves combined the elements of pro-natalist policy and policy that facilitated mothers‘ attachment to the labour market. In the period of transition to the capitalist regime, the leave policies started to diverge depending on the policy design priorities, like re-traditionalisation, fertility incentives, gender equality, and labour market participation. After the European Union accession, leave policies have been gradually transformed towards more gender-equal ones.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy