Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Swedish Economy Booms and Babies Emerge

The economy is booming here in Sweden right now and along with that comes a bit of a baby boom. I guess when you’ve got money it makes more sense to have a baby. And when you don’t have the money then there’s just no time for sex I guess. Anyway, the Swedes are having a lot of sex, and a lot of sex results in a lot of babies. In fact there are so many babies that during the summer they were offering incentives to Swedes to go to other areas of the country and even Finland to have their baby because they just didn’t have enough doctors to take care of all the little buggers. With all the babies around foreigners, and newly arrived Swedes, have noticed a strange phenomenon: men everywhere pushing strollers.

This is because of what the Swedes refer to as being “pappaledig,” basically it’s paternity leave. Dad’s throughout Sweden have the option to take time off of work and still receive their salary when their wives have a child. They are allowed to do this at the same time that the mother is “mammaledig” or take the time afterwards. Father’s can get up to 6 months of time off and receive 80% of their salary. I think you can even transfer some of those days to your partner, but I’m not entirely sure on that (since I’m not in the business of making babies yet I haven’t spent too much time reading up on this). Either way it’s a system which allows people to take time off from work and stay with their children in the early stages and avoid all those trips to the day care.

A friend of mine was talking about this and said that he had met a guy from England a while back who had noticed all of this. He asked what the deal was with all of the gay male nannies in Sweden. The idea of a father having time off to be with his child was so foreign to him that he just assumed that they were male nannies. And the gay part must be something British, maybe male nannies in England are gay, I don’t know. I’ve never met a gay male nanny so we’ll chalk that up to being a British thing. Anyway, I thought it was incredibly interesting that this idea, which is so common and accepted here in Sweden, would be so alien to a country that is only a two hour flight away.

I like the idea here, mainly because you get time off and get paid for it. I’m curious though how much of a difference it makes in child development and all that good stuff that this is supposed to encourage.

6 comments:

  1. its interesting to see it from your point of view, you who actually are a swede by birth but american by heart. this may sound good, but at the same time, its not so much accepted at companies and the bigger business cooperations yet. They try to be open-minded but yet they dislike the fact that the men are taking their parent leave. Yet I think this is actually good, because the father has a right to be with the child as much as the mother does.m

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  2. I wondered about that part of everything. It seems like while it might be accepted in theory to accept it in practice is another thing. especially in larger companies as you say. you're right though the father has a right to be with the child as well. are the copanies against it enough that it might change in the future or has it been established enough to stick around do you think?

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  3. The same paternity leave applies in Finland too. I had mine and I must say it ties you closer to your baby. I think I will have a life-lasting connection with my daughter now.

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  4. That's a very interesting comment. I suppose that so many parents in the United States miss out ona lot of their child's development in those early stages because they have to get back to work. I would be very interested to know if children who grow up with this system do in fact feel a closer connection to their parents. Any comments from kids who got to experience both "mammaledig" and "pappaledig"?

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  5. So funny - I loved that comment about the gay male nannies!

    Yes, we do have a lot of gay male nannies in Britain, particularly in London. We do have some straight ones as well, one of my friends is married to one - and he is looked at with suspicion, as if he is a pervert of some kind! He just happens to love kids and has two of his own.

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  6. Yeah, it's kind of sad how people react to men being alone with children sometimes. As if it's wrong.

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