Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fatherhood in 2008

Research by two professors suggests that dads are contributing more around the house and with childcare than ever before. In a paper prepared for the upcoming conference of the Council on Contemporary Families, Oriel Sullivan and Scott Coltrane insist that instead of a "stalled revolution" in America, men are pulling their weight at home more than ever before.

Here's an excerpt from the section of their paper entitled Key Evidence of Convergence in the Work-Family Balancing that Men and Women Do: (Don't you just love academese?)

* In the USA, men's absolute and proportionate contributions to household tasks increased substantially over the past three decades, substantially lessening the burden on women. National cross-time series of time-use diary studies show that from the 1960s to the 21st century, men's contribution to housework doubled, increasing from about 15 to over 30 percent of the total (Robinson & Godbey 1999; Fisher et al 2006). By the early 21st century, the average full- or part-time employed US married woman with children was doing two hours less housework than in 1965.

* The most dramatic increase in men's contributions has been to child care. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent in child care (Bianchi, Robinson and Milkie 2005; Fisher et al 2006). Fathers in two-parent households now spend more time with co-resident children than at any time since large-scale longitudinally comparable data were collected (Coltrane 2004; Pleck and Masciadrelli 2003). In this period, women also increased their time spent in childcare and interaction with children, doubling it over the period from 1965 to 2003. This mutual increase in child care appears to be related to higher standards for both mothers and fathers about spending time with children.

* These trends are occurring in much of the Western industrial world, suggesting a worldwide movement toward men and women sharing the responsibilities of both work-life and family life. Data from 20 industrialized countries over the period 1965-2003 reveal an overall cross-country increase in men's proportional contribution to family work (including housework, child care and shopping), from less than one-fifth in 1965 to more than a third by 2003 (Hook 2006).

* Furthermore, an analysis of couple's relative contribution to housework in Britain found a steady growth from the 1960s to the 1990s in the percentage of families where the man contributed MORE time to family work (including housework, shopping and child care) than the woman. This trend was particularly marked among full-time employed couples (Sullivan 2006).

* There is, overall, a striking convergence of work-family patterns for US men and women. While the total hours of work (including both paid and family work) done by men and women have remained roughly equal since the 1960s (Fisher et al 2006) - in particular for parents (Bianchi et al 2006) - there has been a growing convergence in the hours that both women and men spend in the broad categories of paid work, family work and leisure (Fisher et al 2006). Women's paid work time has significantly increased, while that of men has decreased. Correspondingly, women's time devoted to housework has decreased, while the time men spend in family work of all kinds has increased.

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