The way parental leave in Sweden has been measured has been faulty, according to the inspection for Socialförsäkringen (the social insurance), because parents are often at home more than the number of parental days. Many parents take fewer than seven days a week and when they take time off they do so in turns, but statistics measure only days with parental benefits. ISF (Inspektionen för Socialförsäkringen) has now tried to measure exactly how long parents stay home. One estimate is that women on an average stay home a total of 77 weeks (spread over several periods of a child’s first eight years), while men who take parental leave, stay home an average of 25 weeks. The time parents stay home with their children has increased since the 1990s; it is the mothers who take out the most unpaid leave, according to ISF.

Differences between groups
The report shows great differences in how long different groups stay at home. Those with highest and lowest incomes spend the least amount of time at home, while college-educated parents as well as parents with medium income are home the most.
The way ISF measures this in their report is by ”parental leave episode,” which is defined by periods when there are ”no more than six days without parental benefit in between days with parental benefits” until the child turns 8. Försäkringskassan (the Swedish Social Insurance Agency) notes that the report from ISF shows that the insurance ”seems to create different conditions for parental leaves for high- and-low-income workers” and that it ”makes for an important piece in the puzzle of trying to understand the relation between the use of parental leave and how long parents are in fact at home with their children.” Försäkringskassan will now embark on a bigger study, which will give a better picture of how the parental insurance functions in real life. That study will be published in December.