A report done by the World Health Organization reveals that Icelandic children have a better relationship with their fathers than do children in other countries, RÚV reports. The report is based on an international comparative study, which covers 220,000 children, ages 11, 13 and 15 in 42 countries in Europe and North America.
The children involved in the study in Iceland are the first age groups to have benefited from a change in rules on paternal leave, increasing the rights of fathers to taking time off when their children are born. Psychology Professor Ársæll Arnarson is convinced there is a correlation: “I think the introduction of the paternal leave has increased considerably the participation of fathers in the upbringing of their children. This, of course, is outstanding performance, and we ought to be very proud of it.”
The University of Akureyri has given a questionnaire to about 12,000 Icelandic children every four years since 2000. This time around, the results reveal that girls as well as boys of all three age groups have a more positive attitude toward their relationship with their fathers than do children in other countries.
Ársæll calls the results unique. “You normally don’t see such a striking difference. So, this is of course unique.”
According to the Ministry of Welfare, Icelandic law allows a paid parental leave of nine months following the birth of a child. The benefits amount to 80% of regular wages, but do not exceed ISK 370,000 (USD 2,900, EUR 2,600) per month. A mother has the right to take three months off, the father another three, and the three remaining months can be divided between the two as they wish.
Recently, there have been proposals by the Ministry of Welfare to increase both the length of parental leave, as well as the roof of the benefits.
Even though the relationship with Icelandic fathers is stellar, Icelandic children still report their relationship with their mothers as better. That’s the verdict of both girls and boys, and of all age groups. Worldwide, Icelandic mothers rank fourth in terms of quality of relationship with their children.