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From partners to parents: The gender division of domestic work, parenthood, and relationship quality of British couples.

Schober, Pia Sophia (2009) From partners to parents: The gender division of domestic work, parenthood, and relationship quality of British couples. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis explores changes in the division of paid and domestic work when British couples become parents. It investigates whether the increase in gender inequality that often occurs may be an obstacle to childbearing and relationship quality. Previous research concentrated on mothers' labour market interruptions and connections between female employment and low fertility or high family instability. Considering the division of domestic labour, however, is central to understanding how economic inequalities between men and women are interdependent with women's greater involvement in unpaid work. This thesis also provides the first UK evidence on how domestic work matters to childbearing and relationship quality of new parents in the context of trends towards more egalitarian gender role identities but lagging practice. The theoretical framework combines a rational choice approach to family behaviour with explanations based on gender role identity. The empirical investigation uses event-history analysis and regression models based on fourteen waves (1992-2005) of the British Household Panel Survey. In contrast to neo-classical economic predictions, the change in the division of labour after couples become parents does not depend on women's relative earnings. Instead both partners' gender role identities are more significant. The association between the domestic labour division and childbearing or relationship quality, however, does not vary by women's gender role identities. Men's housework contributions are associated with a higher probability of having a second child for dual-earner couples, although traditional male-breadwinner families are still more likely to have a first and second child. Gender equality in housework and childcare after couples have a child is associated with lower satisfaction with the partner for most mothers but greater relationship stability. Despite emergence of some egalitarian trends, relatively traditional practice and expectations therefore seem to persist among new parents. The gendered UK policy context also favours more traditional arrangements around parenthood.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Individual and Family Studies, Gender Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Social Policy

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