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Report: MN Doing Right by Dads; More Work Needed

A new study shows that Minnesota fathers could become more involved in their kids' lives if the state enacted better family-leave policies. (Promundo)
A new study shows that Minnesota fathers could become more involved in their kids' lives if the state enacted better family-leave policies. (Promundo)
June 16, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Just ahead of Father's Day, a new state-by-state study shows Minnesota tops the nation for working dads, but there's still work to do. The first-ever State of America's Fathers report suggests there are two fatherhood experiences in the U.S.: one where higher-income dads are praised for being more involved than ever in their kids' lives; the other is where low-income fathers are stigmatized for their lack of resources. While Minnesota already provides up to six weeks of leave for new parents, report co-author Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo US, said the state could make several other changes, including paid family leave, to help close that gap.

"Men's higher salaries mean that we feel the need to stay at the office or the workplace longer," he said. "So, figuring out ways to have flexible leave and then changing the workplace culture that said 'We value you as a caregiver as much as we do being a worker, being an employee.'"

The Minnesota Family Leave Act failed this past legislative session, but lawmakers said it's likely to come up again next year. Some business groups have opposed the idea, saying it would put an undue financial burden on small-business owners.

The report also showed that if men are able to take on at least 40 percent of caregiving responsibilities, their children do better in school and have healthier social interactions. Barker said the U.S. could take cues from other countries that have national leave policies.

"Women are happier, men are happier, children benefit," he added. "And most studies, particularly in countries that have done leave longer, Scandinavian countries, Canada, find that when workers have it, they're happier and more productive."

Other findings in the report include that if men were able to take more time for caregiving, women would be able to participate in the labor market at the same rate as men, which could in turn add billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

The full report can be read online here.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN