An interesting thing happened after Spain introduced a national policy that gave most new dads two weeks of fully paid paternity leave: Men in the country aged 21 to 40, when surveyed, said they wanted fewer children than before the policy took effect. The researchers who have been studying the effects of the 2007 policy say there's no way to draw "sweeping conclusions" from one single data point, per Quartz, but they suggest that, having gotten up close and personal with the process of parenting, the men became more aware of the time, effort, and cost of adding kids to one's household. Thus, the researchers suggest, the men perhaps "shifted their preferences from child quantity to quality." They found that families who were eligible for the paternity leave were 7% to 15% less likely to have another child two years later and were still less likely to have more kids by six years later.
Women in the country, on the other hand, shifted the opposite way, expressing a desire for slightly more children than previously, which researchers suggest could be due to the fact that larger families became more desirable to them when they had more help from their spouse. Since the 2007 policy took effect, Spain has expanded the paternity leave to five weeks, and by 2021 it will have increased to 16 weeks, per El Pais. Among the researchers' other findings: Men who were eligible for paternity leave were just as likely to continue working afterward as men who weren't eligible, but they also continued to be more engaged in caring for their children after they went back to work. Their partners were more likely to return to work as well. But an outside expert notes that since the study was carried out just in Spain, he's "hesitant to believe that these same impacts would apply elsewhere." (Read more paternity leave stories.)