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Ideational Struggles over Symmetrical Parenthood: the Norwegian Daddy Quota



The politics of parenthood is a major battleground in disputes about gender equality. In contemporary debates on parental leave reform, notions about ‘equal’ parenthood and parental ‘choice’ compete. Earmarked leave for fathers, the so-called ‘daddy quota’ – a hallmark of Nordic welfare states, is increasingly being discussed in other types of welfare state. Further increases in earmarked leave is thus of interest to the policy debate in other countries, too. This article examines the reception among political actors in Norway of a proposal in 2008 to divide the existing parental leave into three equal parts – one for the father, one for the mother and one shared at the discretion of both parents. Three rival ideational policy paradigms are identified: fathers’ right to care and mothers’ right to breastfeed compete among quota protagonists, while ‘choice’ is advocated by quota antagonists. So far, quota protagonists guided by the mothers’ rights paradigm have been the most successful, but persistent, ideational tensions are rendering future developments uncertain.



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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
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