“I think it says a lot more about Americans than it does Swedes,” says Richard Hall, a young Swede holding his 13-month-old daughter Martha in one hand, a coffee in the other, at a funky cafe in central Stockholm. He’s in the third month of the six-month leave he’s taken from his job as a development officer with the Swedish Air Force.
Mr. Hall’s partner stayed home for a year before returning to her work in retail. Now it’s his turn, trading in his office desk for cafes, parks, swimming classes, and Kindermusik, until his daughter is a year and a half.
Swedish parents are entitled to a total of 480 days of paid parental leave between the two of them, which can be taken by the month, week, day, or even hour. Women take most of it, according to Swedish official figures (men took 24 percent of it in 2012). But 60 days are allocated specifically to each parent and are nontransferable, in large part as a push for gender equality.