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STATISTICS: Where in the Nordics do men take the most parental leave?

Richard Orange
Richard Orange - [email protected]
STATISTICS: Where in the Nordics do men take the most parental leave?
Fathers in Sweden take the most parental leave in the Nordics. Photo: Credits: Magnus Liam Karlsson/imagebank.sweden.se

Denmark's finance minister is taking ten weeks off this summer to look after his baby son. We broke down the statistics on who takes the most parental leave in the Nordic countries.

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What percentage of the available leave is taken by men? 

In Sweden, since 2019 about 30 percent of the 480 days of shared parental leave is taken by men, according to a study by the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.

In Norway, men who were in work took out 21 percent of the 260 days of parental leave shared by the parents, according to an analysis of fathers of children born in 2017

Danish men, in comparison, took about 14 percent of the days for babies born in 2021, according to a study by Statistics Denmark which showed that the use of parental leave by men had increased significantly from just six percent of the available leave in 2003. 

That breaks down to an average of about 47 days for the average man in Denmark, compared to 144 days for the average man in Sweden and 56 days for the average man in Norway, although these numbers may not be exactly like for like. 

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How do the systems for parental leave differ in Denmark, Norway and Sweden? 

Parents in Sweden can share 480 days of leave, 390 days at 80 percent of their income and the rest at the "minimum" level of 180 kronor a day.

Parents in Norway can share a total of 49 weeks (about 343 days) of parental leave at full salary or 56 weeks (about 392 days) at 80 percent of salary. 

Under Denmark's system, each parent is granted a total of 24 weeks of leave following the birth of each child, with the mother also entitled to four weeks' pregnancy leave prior to birth, and both parents entitled to two weeks' leave immediately after birth. 

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How many days are reserved for fathers (and other partners)? 

Norway has the most days earmarked to the father or partner, with 15 weeks or 105 days issued on a use-it-or-lose-it basis, followed by Sweden with with 13 weeks or 90 days, and Denmark, with 11 weeks or about 77 days. 

In Norway, if you are taking 100 percent of salary, the leave on offer breaks down into three week's parental leave before birth, which can only be used by the mother, a mother's quota of 15 weeks, a second 15-week quota for the mother's partner, and a shared quota of 16 weeks. 

If you are taking only 80 percent of salary, the mother still gets three weeks off before birth, but both the mother-only and father-only quotas are extended to 19 weeks, while the shared quota is extended to 18 weeks. 

In Sweden, there are 90 so-called "reserve days" which cannot be transferred over to the other parent, which have applied to all children born after 2016. 

In Denmark, the parents can share some of their leave with the other parent, but 11 weeks is earmarked for each one. 

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Who is eligible for parental leave payments? 

To be eligible for parental benefit in Norway, you need to have received an income for at least six of the previous 10 months, and to have earned at least 59,310 kroner in that year. You also need to have lived in Norway long enough to qualify for benefits, and to be registered as one of the child's parents, (which you can do here). You also cannot be working while you receive the benefit. 

To be eligible for parental benefit in Sweden, you need to qualify for Sweden's social insurance system, be one of the child's parents, and live with the child in Sweden, in another EU/EES country or in Switzerland. 

To be eligible for parental benefits in Denmark, you need to be employed on the first day of your leave or the day before, have worked 160 hours in for full months before you go on leave, and you must have worked at least 40 hours per month for at least three of the four months.  

You must also physically spend time with the child every day while you are on leave, although this does not mean that you need to live with the child. 

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How much parental leave benefits can you get? 

In Denmark, you can receive up to 4,550 kroner per week before tax, so long as you normally work 37 hours a week and have a monthly salary of at least 19,728 kroner. 

In 2023, you can get a maximum of 122.97 Danish kroner per hour before tax in maternity allowance (4,550 kroner/37 hours). If your hourly wage is less than 122.97 kroner, you will be paid the hourly wage you normally have (122.97 kroner in 2023). If your normal hourly wage is less than 122.97 kroner, you will be paid the hourly wage you normally have rather than the top rate. 

In Sweden, you get paid 80 percent of your salary if you take out parental leave seven days a week up to a maximum payment of 1,116 kronor a day. 

In Norway, while you can get 100 percent of your income this is capped at 711,720 kroner.

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