Housework and parenthood: what a difference a child makes

Tom Emery, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Alzbeta E. Bartova, University of Edinburgh

Recent research has shown signs of a recovery in union stability (Raley and Bumpass, 2003) and fertility in Europe (Myrskala et al, 2013). It has been suggested that this recovery is led by couples that have adopted gender equality within their relationship and are able to maintain it after the transition to parenthood (Esping-Andersen and Billari, 2015). In this paper we examine the extent to which the distribution of housework changes in a couple with the arrival of a first child and the degree to which this is in turn associated with relationship satisfaction and the couples intentions to have more children. By using data from two waves of data for 6 countries in the Generations and Gender Programme (Austria, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary) we are able to observe a couples distribution of housework before and after they have their first child. The results show that the arrival of the first child reinforces gender roles but that this is heavily dependent upon the pre-existing distribution of housework and the Socio-Economic Status of the couple. Those couples who were able to maintain gender equality after the birth had higher levels of relationship satisfaction and were most likely to intend to have another child. The results suggest that gender inequality is established prior to parenthood and not solely enforced by parenthood. It also suggests that the ability to maintain gender equality into parenthood is associated with stable unions and higher order births.

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Presented in Session 73: Families and gender