What Work-Family Conflicts Do Fathers Experience in Sweden and in the United States?
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Fathers are increasingly becoming part of the conversation on work-family balance (O’Brien, 2013). The idea of working fathers as involved fathers who seek to adjust their work lives in order to have more family time is also becoming more common (Kaufman, 2013; Ranson, 2012; Wada et al., 2015). The importance of fathers’ involvement starts early as previous research shows that fathers who take some form of leave in relation to childbirth are more involved in childcare later on (Meil, 2013; Seward et al., 2006; Sullivan et al., 2014). This chapter focuses on fathers in Sweden and in the United States. These two countries are similar in experiencing an increase in fathers’ time with children (Almqvist and Duvander, 2014; Sayer et al., 2004) as well as high levels of work-family conflict among men (Ruppanner and Huffman, 2014). Yet there are clear differences in work-family policies that encourage Swedish fathers to use paid parental leave (Klinth, 2008) and discourage American fathers from requesting parental leave and flexible work (Coltrane et al., 2013; Rudman and Mescher, 2013; Vandello et al., 2013). Additionally, American men work longer hours than Swedish men do. In fact, only 2 percent of Swedish men work 50 hours or more per week compared to 16 percent of American men (OECD, 2013).
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