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MCAT CARS and the Economics of Paid Paternity Leave

CARS 48: MCAT CARS and the Economics of Paid Paternity Leave

Session 48

Today, our passage is about the effect of paternity leave on the population. We’re joined by Jack Westin, the premier MCAT CARS tutor. Sign up for Jack’s free trial to give you a better idea of what to expect from their course.

Have the opportunity to meet Jack and see how he teaches as well as understand their philosophy in teaching. They offer a live, 1 ½-hour session where they break down a CARS passage. Learn about some important principles in reading and answering questions.

Link to article:

https://qz.com/work/1614893/after-men-in-spain-got-paternity-leave-they-wanted-fewer-kids/

In March 2007, Spain introduced a national policy granting most new fathers two weeks of fully paid paternity leave. The policy proved exceptionally popular, with 55% of men eligible in the first year opting to take the paid time. The amount of leave covered by the program was doubled in 2017 and expanded to five weeks in 2018, with additional increases expected between now and 2021.

Economists studying the effects of the original 2007 policy examined what happened to families that had children just before and just after the program began, and found differences in the outcomes. While the early cohort of men who were eligible for paternity leave were just as likely to stay in the workforce as the men who weren’t eligible, they remained more engaged with childcare after their return to work, and their partners were more likely to stay in the workforce as well. In that sense, the program seems to have done what policy makers would have hoped.

Unexpectedly, though, the researchers also found that families who were eligible for the paternity leave were less likely to have kids in the future. In a study published in the Journal of Public Economics (paywall), economists Lídia Farré of the University of Barcelona and Libertad González of University of Pompeu Fabra estimate that two years on, parents who had been eligible for the newly introduced program were 7% to 15% less likely to have another kid than parents who just missed the eligibility cutoff. While the difference dissipated further into the future, even after six years, parents who had been eligible for the leave were still less likely to have a child again.

The researchers suggest an intriguing reason why.

After paternity leave was instituted, surveys of Spanish men ages 21 to 40 showed they desired fewer children than before. Farré and González think that spending more time with their children—or the prospect of having to do so—may have made men more acutely aware of the effort and costs associated with childrearing, and, as the researchers put it, “shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality.”

At the same time, women started showing preferences for slightly larger families—perhaps a sign that having more children seemed more desirable with a slightly more equitable balance of labor at home.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

[05:00] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

In March 2007, Spain introduced a national policy granting most new fathers two weeks of fully paid paternity leave.

Jack says:

We’re given a date and place here.

[05:15] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

The policy proved exceptionally popular, with 55% of men eligible in the first year opting to take the paid time.

Jack says:

Half of the people took the policy.

[05:30] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

The amount of leave covered by the program was doubled in 2017 and expanded to five weeks in 2018, with additional increases expected between now and 2021.

Jack says:

Spain is increasing paternity leave seeing that it’s becoming popular.

[05:56] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

Economists studying the effects of the original 2007 policy examined what happened to families that had children just before and just after the program began, and found differences in the outcomes.

Jack says:

This sparks curiosity so let’s see what’s going to happen.

[06:20] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

While the early cohort of men who were eligible for paternity leave were just as likely to stay in the workforce as the men who weren’t eligible, they remained more engaged with childcare after their return to work, and their partners were more likely to stay in the workforce as well.

Jack says:

This is a good thing then. If they’re given a paternity leave, they stay longer in the workforce and fathers were more committed to the childcare and childrearing. And their partners also get to focus on w

[07:24] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

In that sense, the program seems to have done what policy makers would have hoped.

Jack says:

So the program worked as they had hoped.

[07:34] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

Unexpectedly, though, the researchers also found that families who were eligible for the paternity leave were less likely to have kids in the future.

Jack says:

This is an interesting finding. It’s pretty to understand but this wasn’t expected.

[07:57] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

In a study published in the Journal of Public Economics (paywall), economists Lídia Farré of the University of Barcelona and Libertad González of University of Pompeu Fabra estimate that two years on, parents who had been eligible for the newly introduced program were 7% to 15% less likely to have another kid than parents who just missed the eligibility cutoff.

Jack says:

Now, we’re given numbers of how less likely they were to bear kids. This is just giving us more details on how it was “less children.”

[08:50] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

While the difference dissipated further into the future, even after six years, parents who had been eligible for the leave were still less likely to have a child again.

Jack says:

It’s just reiterating that even further down the line, the numbers showed they’re less likely but still they hadn’t mentioned why.

[09:15] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

The researchers suggest an intriguing reason why.

Jack says:

Now they’re about to say the reason behind this.

[09:24] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

After paternity leave was instituted, surveys of Spanish men ages 21 to 40 showed they desired fewer children than before.

Jack says:

So we don’t really know why if the paternity leave was the cause of their desire of having fewer children. But that’s what the survey showed.

[09:45] Paragraph 5, Sentence 2

Farré and González think that spending more time with their children—or the prospect of having to do so—may have made men more acutely aware of the effort and costs associated with childrearing, and, as the researchers put it, “shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality.”

Jack says:

The men probably realized how much work it takes to raise a kid.

[10:24] Paragraph 6, Sentence 1

At the same time, women started showing preferences for slightly larger families—perhaps a sign that having more children seemed more desirable with a slightly more equitable balance of labor at home.

Jack says:

This goes back to the beginning that men were more engaged in childcare and the women wanting more babies seeing it wasn’t that hard after all.

If you give paternity leave to men, they are less likely to have children or at least that’s what they prefer. On the other hand, women want that help so they’re more likely to want to have more children as they’re getting that help.

[11:50] The Main Idea

The paternity leave led to families having fewer kids. The men wanted fewer kids while the women wanted more. But overall, this led to the result that families participating in paternity leaves are less likely to have children. And this is because of the difficulty of having children. Women benefited from the help that’s why they’re willing to have more children.

Wanting to know could potentially distract some students here. The MCAT wouldn’t ask you about maternity leave based on this passage. But if they do, it’s designed to throw you off. If they bring up something that you never read about, go with the most neutral answer.

'A lot of times, the MCAT will ask a question that has no relevance but they'll see how you'll answer the question.'Click To Tweet

Ultimately, if they don’t bring up something in the passage, we’re not responsible for it. it’s more of a trick question. You’re supposed to eliminate the obvious bad answers and pick the most neutral answer you possibly can.

Links:

Jack Westin

Link to article:

https://qz.com/work/1614893/after-men-in-spain-got-paternity-leave-they-wanted-fewer-kids/

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