Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This research has been carried out in part using the facilities of the University of Pennsylvania Population Studies Center (P2C HD044964).


The birth of a new child continues to exacerbate gender specialization among different-sex couples. This study considers the potential of paid leave policies to intervene in this key life-course juncture and promote greater gender equality in paid and unpaid work. While previous research has examined the impact of paid leave policies on paid or unpaid work among mothers or fathers separately, this study provides an integrated framework and examines comprehensively how these benefits shape both mothers and fathers and both paid and unpaid work outcomes. I use data from the Current Population Survey 1990–2020 and the American Time Use Survey 2003–2019 and quasi-experimental differences-in-differences models to examine the impact of the introduction of paid leave policies in California and New Jersey. The results show that the policy increased mothers’ and fathers’ short-term time off from paid work after new births, increased mothers’ care work but not fathers’, and increased fathers’ housework but not mothers’. I call this pattern differentiated egalitarianism, denoting changes increasing men’s involvement in housework while simultaneously reproducing mothers’ primary caregiver role.


paid leave policy, gender inequality, division of paid and unpaid work



Date Posted: 27 July 2021