Sexism and maternity leave around the world

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Article Highlights

  • Why does maternity leave differ between countries?

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  • New research shows how attitudes about gender lead to different maternity leave policies

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  • Does gender discrimination explain differences in maternity leave across countries?

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Women in Sweden receive more than a year of maternity leave (or their husbands can receive over a year of paternity leave, if that's what the parents of the newborn prefer). In the Philippines, maternity leave lasts for 60 days, which is also the federally mandated minimum here in the United States. In Saudi Arabia, where women are barred from driving and will only be able to vote for the first time in 2015, new mothers are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave.

Why? That's what the governments of those countries have decided. I understand that, but why? Is it because Swedes love big government? Is it because fertility rates in Europe are low enough as it is, and desperate measures are in order? Or is it because people in different countries have different levels of tolerance for gender-based discrimination?

The full text of this article is available on US News & World Report’s website. The full text will be posted to AEI.org on Thursday, August 15, 2013.

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