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Cross-Cultural Parental Support

By interviewing parents from the U.S., France, and Iceland, we can better understand the effects of paid parental leave on parental support.

Photo of Drake Van Egdom
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America stands as one of the last developed countries to not mandate paid parental leave, so parents must find parental support from families, communities, and employers. Cross-cultural analysis of the effects of paid parental leave would prove useful for future policy decisions; the U.S. could learn from other countries. During my research, I will interview American, French, and Icelandic citizens; analyze those interviews; construct experimental materials; and cultivate academic connections for future research.

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Gender equity must be prominent in everything (e.g. policies). If you provide fathers with equal paid parental leave and a supportive environment (e.g. home and work), fathers, mothers, and children will reap the benefits. Most Americans want paid parental leave, and research justifies the benefits of a long paid parental leave: lower maternal depression, lower infant mortality rates, and more.

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

My research targets The Unusual Suspect. Through interviewing parents from America, Iceland, and France, I am learning how their society deals with having a child in their specific context. Iceland provides parents with a long paid parental leave, and mothers and fathers both take it. In France, mothers take most of the paid parental leave. The U.S. does not offer paid parental leave, so I am researching their parental support systems. My research will examine the effects of paid parental leave.

Tell us about yourself:

I am a senior undergraduate Psychology student at Lehigh University. Together with my advisor, Dr. Christopher Burke, I am researching cross-cultural parental support after receiving a Strohl grant.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Alex

I think it is very much essential to take these parental leaves. These leaves are allotted so that the mother can spend time with their kids and bond with them so that they can shape the character of the child.

Photo of Colin Willox

Hi there! I just went through the comments and thought I'd share what's going on in Canada (where I'm from).

There was a recent announcement to fulfill a promise that Justin Trudeau made when he was elected. First, parents will soon be able to take up to 18 months off (up from 12 months) – but this means receiving less payment per month. It gets stretched out.

Additionally, mothers will be able to leave work up to 12 weeks before the due date (was 8 weeks before). Parents can already split the leave as they choose, but nothing is changing here. Quebec has a specific 5 weeks they give additionally to fathers, who can use it or lose it.

There are, of course, some requirements in place before parents qualify for these benefits. For example, one must have worked at least 600 hours in the past year (roughly 12.5 hours per week on average).

More details here:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Drake!

I look forward to seeing your research.

I just want to offer the perspective of the UK.

Most people are eligible for 1 or 2 weeks paid Paternity Leave. Mothers can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave.

'The Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for eligible employees can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows: the first 6 weeks: 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax
the remaining 33 weeks: £140.98 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower)'

Some companies are more generous than others.

All of my friends who have had children have taken their full paternity/maternity leave entitlement.

It would be interesting to know the parental leave entitlements in all the three countries and also how many people take up the full entitlement.

Photo of Lauren Ito

Drake Van Egdom Welcome to OpenIDEO and this challenge! We're excited to have someone with your background and expertise in cross-cultural parental support join our community.

Wondering how soon you will begin your interviews? Excited to see you approaching this from a human-centered lens, and to hear the insights gathered from these interviews.

Lastly, can you add image to your contribution? Images help grab attention and tell a story. You should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there. Looking forward to seeing more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO, and welcome to the community!

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

Thank you for the opportunity to share my research. I will begin interviewing U.S. participants over the next couple of weeks, and I will travel to France and Iceland in mid-August to conduct interviews there. Afterwards, I will transcribe the audio, and analyze the data for any emerging themes. I added an image of Lehigh University to my post; their professors and resources inspire and advance my research.

Photo of Lauren Ito

Drake Van Egdom thanks for updating your post! Due to your expertise in this field, if you have any suggestions for organizations, communities, or individuals we should reach out to that you think align particularly well with this challenge, please provide those suggestions in the comments section or by emailing

Excited to learn more and see you contribute an idea to the next phase of the challenge!