The article on parenting-related leaves in 21 former socialist countries

This article explores the patterns and dynamics of parenting-related leave policy reforms in the European former socialist countries (EFSCs). It sheds light on the development pattern of their leave policies and their potential to reproduce, impede, or transform traditional gender norms in employment and care.

The article provides a historical comparative analysis of leave policy developments in 21 EFSCs in the 1970–2018 period. It systematically explores continuity and changes in leave policy design − generosity (leave duration and benefits level) and fathers’ entitlements to leaves − as well as policy concerns and gender-equality-related implications.

Following the state-socialist commitment to gender equality, the EFSCs introduced childcare/parental leaves early. Nevertheless, they developed mother-centered leaves of equality-impeding character, in that they did not promote gender equality. The divergence of EFSCs’ leave policies intensified in the period of transition from socialism to capitalism, as competing priorities and inter-related policy concerns – such as re-traditionalization, fertility incentives, gender equality, and labor market participation – influenced policy design. Leave policies of the EFSCs that joined the EU gradually transformed towards more gender-equal ones. Nonetheless, the progress has been slow, and only three countries can be classified as having equality-transforming leaves (Slovenia, Lithuania, and Romania).

This article extends existent comparative studies on maternity/paternity/parental leaves, exploring the region that has been overlooked by such research. It provides valuable insights into the implications of intersectional dimensions of leave design as well as competing priorities and concerns embedded in it. It points to the methodological complexity of evaluating the development of parental leave policies in a cross-country perspective.

Article: Dobrotić, I. & Stropnik, N. (2020), Gender equality and parenting-related leaves in 21 former socialist countriesInternational Journal of Sociology & Social Policy, Vol. 40 No. 5/6, pp. 495-514.