Paid Parental Leave and Childcare - An Obvious Opportunity or a Hidden Obstacle to the Careers of Female and Male Employees?

New publication by Prof. Dr. Andresen and colleagues.

Social policies such as paid parental leave as well as childcare are supposed to help mothers and fathers to stay active in the world of work. On the one hand, these offers influence parents' career and occupational decisions. On the other hand, these opportunities impact the decisions of employers to what extent they want to invest in the professional future of their female and male employees. The following question arises:

Is there a relationship between the two social policies and company investment in human capital development practices of female and male employees?

The researchers investigated this question using an international sample of over 13,000 employees in 19 different countries. The results point to statistical discrimination: The more generous the social policies provided in the countries, the lower the investment in human capital development practices for women, but not for men. Decision-makers in companies may be guided by the expectation that men are more productive at work than women, in that mothers are more likely to be attributed the child-rearing role with interruptions in work and other absences. As a result, whether social policies are "unfavourable" to parental employment, such as opportunities for paid parental leave with career interruption, or more "favourable", such as government childcare that allows parents to continue working, we find less company investment in human capital development practices for women than for men. Thus, the more generous the enabling social policy measures in a country, the higher the disabling effects for women.


Reichel, A., Lazarova, M., Apospori, E., Afiouni, F., Andresen, M., Bosak, J., Parry, E., Bagdadli, S., Briscoe, J., Gianecchini, M., Suzanne, P., & Taniguchi, M. (2022). The disabling effects of enabling social policies on organisations' human capital development practices for women. Human Resource Management Journal, online first. (Open Access) (5.039 Impact factor 2020).