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Day care availability and awareness of gendered economic risks: How they shape work and care norms

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Büchau, S., Philipp, M-F., Schober, P.S., & Spiess, C. K.
Publication Date: 
8 Dec 2023


Family policies not only provide money, time and infrastructure to families, but also convey normative assumptions about what is considered desirable or acceptable in paid work and family care. This study conceptualises and empirically investigates how priming respondents with brief media report-like information on existing day care policy entitlements and economic consequences of maternal employment interruptions may change personal normative judgements about parental work–care arrangements. Furthermore, we analyse whether these effects differ between groups of respondents assumed to vary in their degree of affectedness by the information as well as previous knowledge. The theoretical framework builds on the concept of normative policy feedback effects combined with social norm theory and human cognition theories. The study is based on a fully randomized survey experiment combined with a vignette experiment in Wave 12 of the German Family Panel (pairfam). It applies linear and ordinal logistic regressions with cluster-robust standard errors to a sample of 5,783 respondents. Our results suggest that priming respondents with information on day care policy and long-term economic risks of maternal employment interruptions increases acceptance of intensive day care use across the full sample and especially for mothers with children below school entry age. It further increases support for longer maternal hours spent in paid work among childless women and mothers with school-aged children. Norms regarding paternal working hours are largely unaffected by the information given in this survey experiment.