P2P: Paternity Leave and Fathers’ Responsibility: Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Canada

Every student in the Sociology PhD program at the University of Toronto completes the Research Practicum course in their second year. This course involves each student working directly on a research project with a faculty member through the various stages of research and writing while also meeting with other graduate students in the course to tackle the hurdles of clarifying, strengthening, and sharpening one’s ideas in a journal-length research article. In this series, we highlight the practicum papers that went on to become published articles, and the students who wrote them.

Wray, Dana. 2020. “Paternity Leave and Fathers’ Responsibility: Evidence From a Natural Experiment in Canada.” Journal of Marriage and Family. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12661

Dana Wray has published an article in the Journal of Marriage and Family, entitled “Paternity Leave and Fathers’ Responsibility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Canada.” This study uses the natural experiment of the province of Quebec – which introduced reserved paternity leave in 2006, compared to the rest of Canada – to examine whether paternity leave policy can increase fathers’ involvement with their children. The study finds that the reserved paternity leave policy led to a direct increase of 2.2 hours per week in fathers’ solo parenting or responsibility time.

Under the supervision of Melissa Milkie, Dana enrolled in the Research Practicum with an interest in studying how family policy could impact parental time with children in Canada. Dana presented progressive versions of the paper at the 2019 American Sociological Association (ASA) and the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA) annual meetings. The comments at these conferences helped to refine the paper. In addition, the paper also won the 2019 CSA Best Graduate Student Paper award.

Dana greatly appreciates the invaluable feedback from her supervisor, Melissa Milkie; practicum supervisors, Josée Johnston, Ron Levi, and Phil Goodman; her discussant and committee member, Irene Boeckmann; as well as the students in her cohort. The paper also received funding from a Program Level Summer Fellowship from the Sociology department that helped her submit the manuscript for publication in the summer after practicum.

Dana continues to explore the impact of parental leave policy on parents, with a paper on how paternity leave policy can potentially shift mothers’ time with children and perceptions of time pressures accepted for upcoming presentation at the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) conference in New York City in June 2020. In her own work and her collaborative work with Melissa Milkie, Irene Boeckmann, and Julia Ingenfeld, Dana explores the patterning of parental time in Canada, the U.S., and cross-nationally using a range of quantitative approaches to study large-scale surveys of time use data. Her research is supported by a SSHRC CGS Doctoral Award.