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Estonia's parental benefit gender gap falls to new low

Baby.
Baby. Source: Pixabay

The gap between parental benefits for men and women has fallen to its lowest ever level, new data from Statistics Estonia shows. The number of men taking leave has also increased.

In 2021, the average monthly parental benefit, which is calculated by salary, was €1,205 for women and €1,463 for men.

The difference in the average amount of parental benefit paid to male and female recipients has diminished over time: last year, the parental benefit gender gap was 17.6 percent, which is about 10 percentage points lower than in 2020.

"The average amount of parental benefit decreased by €154 among male recipients and increased by €36 among female recipients. This is also the reason for the record-low level of the parental benefit gender gap," said Anet Müürsoo, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia.

Number of persons receiving parental benefit in 2021. Source: Statistics Estonia.

Last year, a total of 38,882 persons received parental benefit and a third of them were men.

Müürsoo said, year on year, the number of men receiving parental benefit almost doubled and totaled 13,044.

"From July 1, 2020, the paternity benefit is paid to fathers, and the recipients of the paternity benefit are included in the data for 2020 and 2021. This affects the number and share of fathers and the average amount of parental benefit in comparison with previous years, and it explains the sudden increase in the share of fathers among recipients of the parental benefit," explained Müürsoo.

Fathers are entitled to a benefit of 30 calendar days which can be used up to 30 calendar days before the estimated date of birth of the child until the child attains three years of age. All fathers are entitled to the paternity benefit, including men without employment. Previously, non-working fathers were not paid the parental benefit.

In 2021, paternity leave was used by nearly 75 percent of the fathers entitled to it – this is about 15 percent more than in 2020.

The parental benefit is meant as a replacement income for a person raising a child; it should be paid to that parent who does the majority of the childcare.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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