Paternity leave doesn't solve the gender pay gap

Given the reporting that's going on about the gender pay gap currently there are, naturally enough, a number of ideas floating around about how to close it. We don't think it needs closing, coming as it does from people exercising their freedom to live their lives as they wish but still, worth examining the ideas proffered.

One of which is more and better paid paternity leave. This idea has the advantage of at least understanding a modicum of the underlying problem. It is the change - on average of course, not particularly of any one individual - in working patterns after the arrival of children which causes that gap. Women tend to be the primary child carer more often than men do and that's the cause and nub of the basic problem, if anyone even wants to call it a problem.

OK, makes logical sense, if more men took more paternity leave then more fathers would interrupt careers as mothers so often do and the pay gap would shrink. But, well, we do have to test logic against reality:

Forget "ladies who lunch." In Sweden there are "latte dads."

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Latte dads aren't so commonplace because of their taste for caffeine. They're a direct result of Sweden's parental-leave policy, one of the most progressive in the world. The Swedish governmentsays that parents of both sexes are entitled to 480 days (16 months) of paid parental leave at about 80% of their salary (with a cap), plus bonus days for twins, and they must share — Swedish dads must take at least some of those 16 months. The days don't expire until the child is 8 years old.

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"Men with prams have become such a familiar sight since shared parental leave was first introduced in 1974 (a full 41 years before parents are scheduled to get it in the UK under the government's proposals) that there's even a name - 'latte pappas' - for the tribe.

Excellent, Sweden has those policies which are advocated for here. Our reality test being do they close that gender pay gap? Well, no, not really. By the method the EU uses to measure it it's 15% in Sweden as opposed to 16% across the EU. As opposed to 6% in Italy which most certainly doesn't have any cultural tendency to latte dads.

Oh well, another of those plans which look good on paper but fail on exposure to actual human beings.

We're entirely happy to agree with the most vociferous of feminists that the gender pay gap is the result of deep seated cultural discrimination. It's just that we're entirely certain that it is discrimination by parents themselves over how they'd like to organise life to raise their own children. As such that gap - better to call it an earnings gap as well - is an outcome of people exercising their freedom and liberty. Something we thoroughly approve of ourselves even as it drives certain people entirely up the wall.