Does parenthood change attitudes to fathering? Evidence from Australia and Britain

Buchler, Sandra, Perales, Francisco and Baxter, Janeen (2017) Does parenthood change attitudes to fathering? Evidence from Australia and Britain. Sex Roles, 1-13. doi:10.1007/s11199-017-0757-8


Author Buchler, Sandra
Perales, Francisco
Baxter, Janeen
Title Does parenthood change attitudes to fathering? Evidence from Australia and Britain
Journal name Sex Roles   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1573-2762
0360-0025
Publication date 2017-03-23
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1007/s11199-017-0757-8
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Place of publication New York, NY, United States
Publisher Springer New York LLC
Collection year 2018
Language eng
Abstract A wealth of research has established that the transition to parenthood can shift men’s and women’s attitudes to motherhood. We add to this knowledge base by examining how attitudes to fatherhood change across the transition to parenthood. This is important within a historical period in which definitions of what it means to be a good father are changing to emphasise hands-on involvement in childcare, yet there has been little institutional change to support this. Our empirical analyses rely on long-running, panel data from Britain and Australia, and fixed-effect panel regression models. We find that attitudes to fatherhood change significantly after the birth of a first child. For most of the measures considered, parenthood results in men’s attitudes to fatherhood becoming comparatively more egalitarian than women’s. While both Australian and British men become more enthusiastic towards being involved in the care and upbringing of their children after experiencing parenthood, Australian women become less likely to agree that fathers should do so. These findings provide a partial explanation for why couples engage in more traditional gender divisions of labour after parenthood. They suggest that men’s involvement in childcare is not only constrained at the institutional and employment levels, but also by their female partners becoming more reluctant to support an active fathering role. More broadly, our research adds to growing evidence demonstrating that first births are an important life-course marker, and parenthood has the capacity to shift how men and women perceive their familial roles and their broader roles in society.
Keyword Australia
Britain
Fatherhood
Gender attitudes
Longitudinal
Parenthood
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
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