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Essays on schooling, gender, and parental leave
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis consists of four self-contained essays.


Essay 1: Mixed-aged classes (MA-classes) are a common phenomenon around the world. In Sweden, these types of classes increased rapidly during the 1980:s and 1990:s, despite the fact that existing empirical support for MA-classes is weak. In this paper, we estimate the effect of attending an MA-class during grades 4-6 on students’ cognitive skills. Using a unique survey with information on students, parents and teachers, we are able to control for many factors that could otherwise bias the results. We find a negative effect on short-run cognitive skills, as measured by grade 6 cognitive tests, and this effect is robust to a rigorous sensitivity analysis.


Essay 2: We examine whether the impact of pre-school interventions on cognitive skills differs by immigrant background. The analysis is based on Swedish data containing information on childcare attendance, rich family background information, the performance on cognitive tests at age 13, and long-run educational attainment for cohorts born between 1967 and 1982. We find that childcare attendance reduces the gap in language skills between children from immigrant backgrounds relative to native-born children. We find no differential effects on inductive skills, however. Nor does childcare appear to affect the distribution of long-run educational attainment.


Essay 3: This paper estimates the effect of child gender on mothers’ and fathers’ parental leave. The focus on Sweden, a highly gender equal society, yields additional knowledge on the prevalence of gender biases in industrialized countries. The results show that a first born son increases fathers’ parental leave with 0.6 days (1.5 percent) and decreases mothers’ leave by a similar amount, leaving the total leave unchanged. Both the sign and size of this effect is in line with previous research. However, there are interesting differences between groups that departs from previous studies. Non-traditional families, with high maternal relative earnings and/or educational levels, show even larger gender biases, indicating that it may be mothers, rather than fathers, that are the driving force behind this child gender bias.


Essay 4: This paper investigates the effect of parental leave – both own and spousal – on subsequent earnings using different sources of variation. Using fixed-effects models, and in line with previous results, parental leave is found to decrease each parent’s future earnings. Also spousal leave is important, but only for mothers. In fact, each month the father stays on parental leave has a larger positive effect on maternal earnings than a similar reduction in the mother’s own leave. Using two reforms of the parental leave system as exogenous sources of variation yields only imprecisely estimated effects, even though the reforms had a strong effect on parental leave usage. However, the point estimates tentatively suggest effects in the same range or larger than the fixed-effects model found.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Economics, Uppsala University , 2009. , 131 p.
Economic studies, ISSN 0283-7668 ; 121
Keyword [en]
schooling; gender; parental leave; mixed-age classes; child care; preschools
National Category
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-111210ISBN: 978-91-85519-28-6OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-111210DiVA: diva2:279850
Public defence
2010-01-29, Hörsal 2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsgatan 10, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2009-12-21 Created: 2009-12-07 Last updated: 2009-12-21

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