June 09, 2009 07:12
In Sweden there is no term to describe government policies to promote childbirth. Yet the country manages to maintain a birthrate of 1.7 to 1.8 children per family. The key to this achievement is gender equality. During the 1950s and 60s, the country's labor force was bolstered by allowing women to enter the workforce in order to help overcome widespread poverty.
It was decided that the state should take on the responsibility of childcare if both parents have to work. And in 1974, Sweden became the first country in the world to adopt work leave for women who have children. As a result of such government policies, Sweden's birth rate reached 1.88 in 2007.
The Swedish government guarantees 480 days of leave for working parents with kids aged eight or less. Out of that period, 60 days are designated "daddy month" and "mommy month." No single spouse is allowed to use all 18 months and if either declines to use those holidays, they end up losing them.
Sweden is one of the countries in the world where men take on the greatest portions of housework. Fathers with a child less than six-years-old spend an average three hours and 21 minutes doing housework (2004 European statistics), 6.3 times greater than the 32 minutes Korean men spend on average doing the same chores.
It is a common sight to see dads taking their kids out for walks in strollers during the day in Stockholm. Adults accompanied by children do not have to pay for public transportation, while all buses are low-riding, in order to make it easier for people with strollers to get on and off.
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