Coltrane's paternity research in The Atlantic

Interim Provost Scott Coltrane

Interim Provost Scott Coltrane continues to be a prominent sociologist and contributed a commentary to The Atlantic on Dec. 29. 

"The Risky Business of Paternity Leave" details research by Coltrane and UO GTFs Elizabeth C. Miller, Tracy DeHaan and Lauren Stewart in a study published in the Journal of Social Issues in June 2013.

"Research shows that working men and women tend to make different adjustments when they become parents. Women typically resolve work-family conflicts by reducing their work hours, whereas men typically increase their work hours," wrote Coltrane in The Atlantic.

To understand what happens when men reduce work to increase their role in family obligations, the UO sociologists examined data from more than 12,000 respondents in the U.S. over 28 years to determine if men who reduced or restructured their workplace commitments could expect lower earnings than men who didn’t.

"We found that although the magnitude of the earnings loss is greater for women, men who reduce their work hours or take time off for family reasons are also likely to experience lower earnings over the course of their working lives," wrote Coltrane.

Earnings are only part of the consideration when determining the value of paternity leave however.  Coltrane points out several benefits from countries that have high percentages of men that take paternity leave, such as Norway and Sweden.  Benefits can include deeper connections to children, shared household chores that increases partner satisfaction, and possibly longer lives. 

"Especially because parental leave can depress long-term earnings, new policies should focus on wage replacement and ensuring fair treatment of parents in the workplace, regardless of gender," Coltrane concludes.

- by Julie Brown, Office of Strategic Communications