Trajectories of modernization of parenting leave policies within continental Europe: Similarities and unexpected differences

Mara A. Yerkes*, Birgit Pfau-Effinger, Wim Van Lancker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Traditionally considered to be family policy laggards, continental European countries have witnessed significant changes in parenting leave policies in recent years. In this chapter, we compare the modernisation of parenting leave policies across Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands. We analyse the extent to which these three continental European countries shifted away from male breadwinner-focused parenting leave policies between 2005 and 2020 and how these modernisation trajectories frame what is expected of parents in their leave-taking behaviour. Our analysis shows similarities and differences, as well as stasis and change across all three countries. In the final section of the chapter, we consider these developments in light of dominant gender cultures and the expectations of mothers and fathers. We suggest further research is needed on this grouping of countries to sufficiently explain the relationship between these gender attitudes and parenting leave modernisation trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Leave Policy
Subtitle of host publicationParenting and Social Inequalities in a Global Perspective
EditorsIvana Dobrotić, Sonja Blum, Alison Koslowski
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781800372214
ISBN (Print)9781800372207
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Social Policy and Welfare
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing


  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • the Netherlands
  • Continental Europe
  • Modernisation
  • Parenting Leave


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