How does the U.S. compare to other countries on paid parental leave? Americans get 0 weeks. Estonians get more than 80.

Protesters in New York call for paid leave on Oct. 31. (Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world — and yet one of only a few countries not to offer some form of paid family leave for new parents.

President Biden campaigned on parental leave. But Democrats’ proposal to mandate paid leave federally has come into doubt as they spar with Republicans and members of their own caucus over a package to overhaul health care, education, immigration, climate and tax laws.

Paid parental leave is not especially controversial in much of the world.

Advocates of paid leave for new parents argue that it improves the well-being of both parents and babies, by enabling parents to take time off while ensuring some job and income protection. There is also an economic argument: Some studies show paid parental leave increases women’s participation in the workforce and reduces gender pay gaps. Supporters argue that such policies also recognize the work and economic contribution that parents make by caring for their children, as well as the time it takes to recover physically and emotionally after giving birth.

Still, even in countries with comparatively robust paid leave, both mothers and fathers have described encountering discrimination when taking paid parental leave — and, more generally, primary caregivers can struggle to juggle both their careers and child care.

Here’s a look at how some countries handle paid parental leave.

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