American Paternity & Maternity Leave vs. The Rest of the World




Work/life balance in the form of supportive national and employee benefit plans is something that the United States has sorely lacked, especially in comparison to other developed economies. Corporate lobbies have made it so.

Nowhere (other than health care benefits) is that more apparent than when looking at maternity and paternity leave. Let’s take a look at how we stack up against the rest of the world.

Here are Some Interesting Parental Leave Figures to Consider:

  • paternity and maternity leaveThe U.S. is the ONLY country in the Americas without a national paid parental leave benefit. The average is over 12 weeks of paid leave anywhere other than Europe and over 20 weeks in Europe.
  • Zero industrialized nations offer no parental leave other than the U.S.
  • Canada recently passed legislation to boost paid parental leave (shared between paternity and maternity) from 10 to 35 weeks, in addition to 15 weeks for maternity.

Depressed yet? Let’s Travel to Europe to See how they View Parental Leave.

  • Lithuania offers 52 weeks at 100% pay plus 52 weeks at 80% pay to be split between the parents however they would like!
  • Denmark – 52 weeks.
  • France – 16 weeks at 100% pay for first child and up to 26 weeks for third child. That’s on top of an amazing 104 weeks of unpaid leave (your employer is required to let you come back to your job).
  • Norway – 56 weeks paid.
  • Sweden – 480 days paid.

Yikes. OK. What About Impoverished African Nations. Surely they Don’t Offer Parental Leave, do they?

  • Ethiopia, with its gross national income of $859 per person – 90 days at 100% pay.
  • Madagascar, with a gross national income of $911 – 14 weeks at 100% pay.
  • Somalia…. gross national income of $600 – yeah…. 14 weeks at 50% pay.

Wait, I Got you! Afghanistan! There is no Way Afghanistan Offers Better Benefits than us, Right??

Afghanistan offers 90 days at 100% pay. I kid you not.

What to Make of All This:

If you’re an expecting mom or soon to be father in the United States who is actually getting paid leave from your employer – be thankful and take it. Take all of it. And enjoy it. Do not feel guilt as a result of backwards cultural values. You deserve that time to enjoy your new family and settle.

If you’re thinking of having lots of kids some day. Well, start writing your congressman/congresswoman or begin looking into green cards.

Maternity & Paternity Leave Discussion:

  • What’s the longest maternity/paternity leave in the United States that you’ve seen? How long?
  • What about the shortest?
  • Have you actually considered moving to a different country to enjoy the benefits of things like paid paternal leave or universal health care?

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