In Estonia parental benefits are paid as of 1 January 2004. According to the Parental Benefit Act, the purpose of parental benefits is to compensate for the income that new parents on parental leave lose due to taking care of their children, thus supporting the reconciliation of work and family life.
The proportion of employed women with higher education amongst women in childbirth has been growing since 2002. The growth in proportion of working women with higher education amongst women in childbirth has been higher than the proportion of working women with higher education amongst women of childbearing age. Therefore, this growth is not attributable to a growth of proportion of women with the corresponding characteristics amongst women of childbearing age. However, since these developments began two years before the enactment of the Parental Benefits Act, it cannot be confirmed that the changes in the structure of women in childbirth are caused by parental benefits.
“In general, the empirical analysis did not provide a clear answer to whether the implementation of parental benefits may have had an immediate impact on fertility behaviour. Future quantitative analysis of data combined with qualitative study should throw more light on this.”
The analysis showed that after the establishment of parental benefits the income subject to social security tax of women with a second or third child is relatively higher compared to women in childbirth in the previous years.
The survey report contains many suggestions for future studies conducted in limited circumstances with existing data. For example, the socio-demographic background of women in childbirth, the labour force participation of both families with small children, and recipients of parental benefits should be analysed annually. It is recommended that quantitative studies on the reasons why fathers seldom take parental leave and more quantitative survey research on parental benefits and the reconciliation of work and family life are conducted.