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Are children barriers to the gender revolution? International comparisons

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DeRose, L. F., Goldscheider, F., Brito, J. R., Salazar-Arango, A., Corcuera, P., Corcuera, P. J., & Gas-Aixendri, M.
Publication Date: 
27 Aug 2019


Children seem to present a barrier to the gender revolution in that parents are more likely to divide paid and domestic work along traditional gender lines than childless couples are. However, the extent to which this is so varies between countries and over time. We used data on 35 countries from the 2012 International Social Survey Programme to identify the contexts in which parents and non-parents differ the most in their division of labour. In Central/South America, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Asia, and South Africa, labour sharing configurations did not vary as much with the presence of children as in Australia, Western Europe, North America, and Northern Europe. Our multilevel models helped explain this pattern by showing that children seem to present a greater barrier to the gender revolution in richer and, surprisingly, more gender equal countries. However, the relationship between children and couples’ division of labour can be thought of as curvilinear, first increasing as societies progress, but then weakening if societies respond with policies that promote men’s involvement at home. In particular, having a portion of parental leave reserved for fathers reduces the extent to which children are associated with traditional labour sharing in the domestic sphere.