General project description

This project is truly international: we are researchers based throughout Europe. While the project is hosted in Sweden (Lund University), data are used from the three Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland and Sweden and in addition researchers are based in Germany and Italy.

A general description below is based on our application abstract:

Women face difficult trade-offs in juggling the demands of working life and family life. The Nordic countries have responded to this through the introduction of ‘family-friendly’ policies whereby women could stay on paid parental leave. These policies have contributed to high labor force participation rates for women, and lower so-called “child penalties” in earnings. There remains, however, potential adverse consequences of parental leave in high-skilled jobs that build upon the continuous accumulation of knowledge: workers suffer from a “burden of knowledge” in keeping up with an ever-expanding knowledge frontier in their field, and time away from the job can lead to quick depreciation of knowledge. Thus, parental leave may favor women’s participation in the labor market generally, but jobs characterized by rapid knowledge accumulation may suffer.

Our proposed research program address this paradox by investigating the career paths of women and men in two particularly knowledge-intensive areas of key importance to societal progress, science and technology. We will provide causal evidence on the impact of child-bearing on academic careers and careers in highly innovative private firms and how this impact is related to the roll-out of parental leave schemes. Going beyond the focus on earnings inequalities, we will examine the potential adverse effects on knowledge output in terms of publications and patents, which might have long-lasting, negative implications for societal growth and welfare. Our study also has implications for the determinants and consequences of women’s continued underrepresentation in science and technology professions, addressing the fairness of access for both genders to high-earning, knowledge-intensive jobs