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Parental Divorce and Gender Equality in Sweden Michael Gähler and Livia Sz. Oláh Presentation at the eighth meeting of the European Network for the Sociological.

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Presentation on theme: "Parental Divorce and Gender Equality in Sweden Michael Gähler and Livia Sz. Oláh Presentation at the eighth meeting of the European Network for the Sociological."— Presentation transcript:

1 Parental Divorce and Gender Equality in Sweden Michael Gähler and Livia Sz. Oláh Presentation at the eighth meeting of the European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Studies of Divorce, València, October, 2010

2 Background A relatively high proportion of children experience parental divorce/separation Parental divorce is associated with negative short- and long-term outcomes for children, regarding, for example, psychological adjustment, educational attainment, social relations, marital quality, and own partnership stability But are there any “positive” outcomes associated with parental divorce? Any effects on children’s gender-role attitudes in adulthood? Why study attitudes (and not behavior)? 1. Attitudes are highly correlated with behavior 2. Attitudes indicate potential for behavior Previous studies are (i) few, (ii) American and (iii) yield inconclusive results

3 Theoretical considerations Living with both parents... Social learning theory: Children learn that mothers and fathers perform different tasks. Children acquire sex-typed behaviour by imitating role models. Same-sex parent is salient model. Replication of gender roles....and only with one Role-restructuring theory: Absence of either parent may affect gender role attitudes as single parents must perform tasks that are non-traditional for their gender. Irrespective of parent’s gender, children in single-parent families are less likely to ”learn” gender specialization Father-absence theory: Fathers are more likely to stress conformity to traditional gender roles. Single fathers instil more traditional gender role attitudes in children

4 Hypotheses: gender attitude matrix Family Structure Father-Absence Hypothesis Role-Restructuring Hypothesis Mother and fatherTraditional/egalitarianTraditional Mother and stepfatherTraditional/egalitarianLess traditional Mother onlyEgalitarian Father onlyTraditionalEgalitarian Source: revision of Wright and Young 1998.

5 Data and methods Data Swedish Young Adult Panel Study (YAPS), wave 1 (1999) and 2 (2003) Postal questionnaire with questions on attitudes and norms, work, family, and demographic behavior among young adults (22, 26, 30, and 34 years old in 2003) Information on childhood family background from 1999 or 2003 and gender-role attitudes from 2003 for 2,491 respondents: 1,418 women and 1,073 men (including a subsample of 273 respondents with at least one parent born in Poland or Turkey) Response rate (for respondents with two Swedish-born parents): 67 percent in 1999 and 78 percent in 2003 Method Binary logit (three dichotomous dependent variables [egalitarian vs semi-/nonegalitarian] separately analyzed)

6 Measures: dependent variables 1. Combined (public and private) sphere gender-role attitudes Question: “What would be the best arrangement for a family with preschool children?” Egalitarian: Both work, but the man works part-time and takes the main responsibility for home and children OR both parents work roughly the same hours and share the responsibility for home and children equally Non-/Semiegalitarian: Only the man works and the woman takes the main responsibility for home and children OR both work, but the woman works part-time and takes the main responsibility for home and children

7 Measures: dependent variables (cont’d) 2. Index on Private sphere gender-role attitudes (2 items) a)The woman should take the main responsibility for housework b)The man should be the main supporter of the family Egalitarian: strongly disagree on both statements 3. Index on Public sphere gender-role attitudes (4 items) a)A society where men and women are equal is a good society b)Men can do as well as women in caring jobs c)Women can do as well as men in technical jobs d)It is as important for a woman as for a man to support herself. Egalitarian: strongly agree on all four statements

8 Measures: independent variables Main explanatory variables Childhood family structure: both parents, mother only, mother and stepfather, father only Mother’s full-time work during the respondent’s pre-school or school years: yes or other Control variables Gender: male or female Age at survey (cohort): 22, 26, 30 or 34 years (cohorts 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980) Ethnic background: Swedish, Polish or Turkish origin Partnership status: single (incl. missing) or coresidential union Parental status: child in the household or not (incl. missing) Own education: primary/secondary (incl. missing) or post-secondary Economic activity: employment (incl. self-employment), studies or other (incl. unemployed, housework, parental leave, missing)

9 Descriptive statistics AllWomenMen Attitude: combined sphere100.0 Egalitarian Attitude: private sphere100.0 Egalitarian Attitude: public sphere100.0 Egalitarian Childhood family structure100.0 Both parents Mother only Mother & stepfather Father only Maternal employment Full-time n 2,4911,4181,073 Descriptive statistics for dependent and main explanatory variables (in %)

10 Results: parental divorce/separation and gender-role attitudes Combined spherePrivate spherePublic sphere WomenMenWomenMenWomenMen Parental divorce/separation Both parents Divorced/separated parents † Maternal employment Other Full-time1.72***1.31†1.40**1.37* Determinants of Gender-Role Attitudes: Combined Sphere, Private Sphere, Public Sphere. Binary Logistic Regression (odds ratios) *** p≤0.001, ** p≤0.01, * p≤0.05, † p≤0.10

11 Results: childhood family structure and gender-role attitudes Combined spherePrivate spherePublic sphere WomenMenWomenMenWomenMen Childhood family structure Both parents Mother only Mother & stepfather †0.52* Father only † Maternal employment Other Full-time1.72***1.33†1.41**1.39* Determinants of Gender-Role Attitudes: Combined Sphere, Private Sphere, Public Sphere. Binary Logistic Regression (odds ratios) *** p≤0.001, ** p≤0.01, * p≤0.05, † p≤0.10

12 Results: control variables Combined spherePrivate spherePublic sphere WomenMenWomenMenWomenMen Age (cohort) 34 (1968) (1972) * *** 26 (1976) ** 22 (1980) **0.50**1.54*1.32 Ethnic background Swedish Polish *** Turkish0.46*0.23***0.26***0.29**0.62*0.73 Determinants of Gender-Role Attitudes: Combined Sphere, Private Sphere, Public Sphere. Binary Logistic Regression (odds ratios) *** p≤0.001, ** p≤0.01, * p≤0.05, † p≤0.10

13 Results: control variables (cont’d) Combined spherePrivate spherePublic sphere WomenMenWomenMenWomenMen Education Primary/secondary Post-secondary1.94***1.45*1.80***1.49**1.85***1.38* Partnership status Single Married/Cohabiting †1.06 Parental status No child in household Child in household0.53***0.66*0.56*** Economic activity Employment Studies * Other † † Determinants of Gender-Role Attitudes: Combined Sphere, Private Sphere, Public Sphere. Binary Logistic Regression (odds ratios) *** p≤0.001, ** p≤0.01, * p≤0.05, † p≤0.10

14 Results: age at parental divorce/ separation and gender-role attitudes

15 Preliminary conclusions In Sweden with its focus on gender equality, childhood family structure is not (to any larger extent) linked to a person’s gender-role attitudes. This result is in accordance with previous American studies Instead, gender egalitarian views are associated primarily with own education (post-secondary) – in all spheres and for both genders –, with maternal full-time employment in childhood – regarding attitudes on the private and the combined spheres – and with ethnic background – young women and men with Turkish background consistently express less egalitarian gender-role attitudes than their peers with Swedish and Polish background. Moreover, gender-egalitarian views are associated with parental status. Young mothers exhibit less gender egalitarian views than non-mothers.

16 Preliminary conclusions (cont’d) The findings regarding maternal employment, which represents a non- traditional female role model, provide some support for the ”role- restructuring” hypothesis, along with the private-sphere (and combined-sphere) gender-role-attitude results for men, raised mainly by their fathers. The ”father-absence” hypothesis receives no empirical support. Growing up with a single father is not associated with more traditional gender- role attitudes than growing up with a single mother or in an intact family (rather the opposite, at least for men). Selection effect? Our findings for men raised by mother & stepfather having non-/semi- egalitarian views at both the public and the private spheres, while women in such family types are more egalitarian, will be studied further.

17 Thank you for your attention!


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