Work-life balance is a value that is held high in the Nordic countries, making it easier for people living here to combine work with family life. Collective agreements ensure a high level of flexibility and enable employees to influence how working hours are spent. This is especially true at the beginning of parenthood. Not only do we have some of the best parental leave benefits in the world, but the Norwegian welfare system has also been a pioneer in making it possible for both parents to care for their children at home.
Both women and men alike are entitled to 15 weeks of parental leave each. The remaining 16 weeks is divided between them in whichever way that suits the family’s situation. The system gives families flexibility, but also strengthens women’s careers and increases fathers’ time spent with their children.
Gender roles in motion
Norway was actually the first country to ever introduce a dedicated father's quota in 1993, and by 2015, 90% of fathers were taking advantage of it and 70% now choose to use the entire period. Even if the details of the quota have been debated since it emerged in its first form, its effect on how Norwegian parents divide their time between work and time with their toddlers is undisputable.
The trend over the last decades has been that men spend more time doing household work, while women spends less, although still contributing significantly more at home than their counterparts. A little more than half of Norwegian men spend more than 1 hour a day on household work, while the EU average is around 32%. In general, the difference of gender roles in Norway and Scandinavia are not as stark as in other parts of the world and maybe, becoming less and less of a template.