The World Today for December 01, 2021


Promoting Parenthood


Most wealthy countries offer nationwide paid parental leave. Estonia, for example, mandates 82 weeks for new parents, reported the Washington Post, citing World Policy Analysis Center data. British citizens receive 39 weeks. The Japanese enjoy 52 weeks or more. Often, policymakers in these countries want to encourage higher birth rates.

Sometimes they want to pursue gender equality, making sure women receive salaries even when they leave the office to care for the next generation. Other times, the countries simply have a greater appreciation for robust social welfare and safety nets.

Unsurprisingly, research shows that new parents are happier in countries where paid parental leave is generous, wrote the Atlantic magazine. Norwegian parents, for example, were happier than their childless peers. Parenthood was not always better in countries with the benefit. But the US, which is debating such a benefit, was the country where happiness fell most precipitously after one had children.

Meanwhile, many countries are moving ahead with more parental bonuses.

Heilongjiang province in northeast China recently gave 10 days of parental leave annually to fathers and mothers of children three years old and younger, reported China Daily. The same measure provides childcare subsidies to parents and incentives for the establishment of daycare centers. Other measures are being considered on a national level, explained Sixth Tone, an outlet owned by a Chinese state-owned media company.

Writing in British Vogue, parenthood columnist Nell Frizzell lamented how fathers in the UK did not receive mandatory paternity leave unlike other men in northern Europe. “Giving fathers time and money to look after their children is such an obviously necessary thing to do that, like being asked whether breathing is good for you or not, it’s hard to know where to begin,” she wrote.

The French government recently enacted 28 weeks of paid paternity leave, reported France24. Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi recently took his paternity leave, garnering headlines because few men in Japan take advantage of the perk, the BBC said.

Often, that’s because men fear the loss of a job, promotion opportunities or just ridicule. For women, meanwhile, paternity leave means more equality in hiring – some companies in Germany and elsewhere, for example, fear hiring women because they worry over extra outlays for maternity leave.

Still, in India, while female workers in companies that have 10 or more employees receive more than four months of paid leave, at least one company, Hyderabad-based engineering firm Cyient, recently offered 12 weeks of “gender-neutral” parental leave to its global workforce, Livemint wrote.

Other nations are expanding the concept of time off for childbearing or the sudden absence thereof. New Zealand recently offered three days of paid leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth, according to National Public Radio.

The world, or most of it, appears to agree on the issue.

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