Why You Should Be Jealous of Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave in Sweden

Episode 3:

Sweden is recognized around the world for having the best maternity leave and paternity leave. But is it true?

Does Sweden’s maternity leave and paternity leave policies work for everyone? Aren’t there any downsides to the system?

Often when I tell American friends and family about the amount of paternity leave I took with my kids they wonder how the system works. How do businesses afford having mothers away on maternity leave in Sweden for so long? Don’t they lose money? Who pays for it?

My wife and I have enjoyed Sweden’s generous maternity leave and paternity leave. I’m totally biased on this question. I believe the amount of money the society “loses” paying for maternity leave and paternity leave comes back tenfold later in life. While it’s hard to find evidence for it, I think Sweden’s generous parental leave policies bring parents and children closer together. I think in the long run it probably saves society all sorts of money.

I know the United States sticks out in the Western World for having the worst maternity leave and paternity leave. As far as I understand, it practically doesn’t even exist. I think that’s ridiculous. But it feels like things are beginning to change there.

In this episode 3, I sat down with Ann-Zofie Duvander. She is an Associate professor of Sociology and Demography at Stockholm University. Her research interests include family policy as well as the family and work-connection. She is an expert on maternity leave and paternity leave policies in Sweden, with a special focus on leave taken by fathers.


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