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If I [Take] Leave, Will You Stay? Paternity Leave and Relationship Stability

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2019

Department of Sociology, Ball State University, 222 North Quad, Muncie, IN 47306 email:
Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah, 225 S. 1400 E., Alfred Emery Building, Room 234, Salt Lake City, UT 84112 email:
Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 152 Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, OH 43210 email:


Recent European studies suggest that fathers’ leave-taking may contribute to parental relationship stability. Paternity leave-taking may signal a commitment by fathers toward a greater investment in family life, which may reduce the burden on mothers and strengthen parental relationships. This study uses longitudinal data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) to analyze the association between paternity leave-taking and relationship stability in the United States. Results indicate that paternity leave-taking, and taking relatively short leaves (i.e. two weeks or less) in particular, is associated with greater relationship stability. These findings increase our understanding of the potential benefits of paternity leave, and can inform policy decisions that aim to increase family stability.

© Cambridge University Press 2019

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