14 December 2018
We study the effect of parenting daughters on attitudes towards gender norms in the UK; specifically, attitudes towards the traditional male breadwinner norm in which it is the husband’s role to work and the wife’s to stay at home. We find robust evidence that rearing daughters decreases fathers’ likelihood to hold traditional attitudes. This result is driven by fathers of school-aged daughters, for whom the effects are robust to the inclusion of individual fixed effects. Our estimates suggest that fathers’ probability to support traditional gender norms declines by approximately 3%age points (8%) when parenting primary school-aged daughters and by 4%age points (11%) when parenting secondary school-aged daughters. The effect on mothers’ attitudes is generally not statistically significant. These findings are consistent with exposure and identity theories. We conclude that gender norm attitudes are not stable throughout the life-course and can significantly be shaped by adulthood experiences.
In recent decades, concerns about gender equality have been increasingly prominent in both the political and the social spheres, prompting governments to embark on the task of alleviating gender differences inside and outside the labour market. Nevertheless, progress towards achieving gender equality appears to have gradually slowed down (Eagly and Wood, 2012; Gender Equality Index, 2017). Against this background, a growing body of research has established the importance of traditional gender norms in explaining the persistence of gender inequalities in wages (Burda et al., 2007), in labour force participation (Fernández et al., 2004; Fortin, 2005; Fernández and Fogli, 2009; Farre and Vella, 2013; Johnston et al. 2014), and in the division of domestic work (DeMaris and Longmore, 1996; Greenstein, 1996, and see Davis and Greenstein 2009 for a review). However, there is limited evidence on how susceptible to change such norms are. This paper addresses this question.
Read the rest of the introduction and article in the Oxford Economic Papers.