His and her earnings following parenthood and implications for social inequality: Cohort and cross-national comparisons

Project leader


Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2016
End date: 31/12/2018
Funding: 2245455 SEK


This project contributes a historical and cross-national perspective to understanding his and her work and earnings’ trajectories following parenthood in Sweden, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Women’s earnings have become an increasingly important component of family income across the advanced industrialized world, yet women continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities. The transition to parenthood is a particularly salient turning point, when mothers cut back at work to accommodate new time demands at home, and earnings differentials between partners widen. Important research questions are: Have men’s and women’s employment responses to childbirth become more symmetrical over time? Are gender disparities in partners’ earnings smaller in Sweden than in countries that pay less attention to gender equity at work and at home? What are the implications of gendered changes in employment among parents for social inequality? How have changes in parental separation and increases in shared childcare among nonresident parents contributed to changing gender dynamics and the link to inequality? These questions tap critical gaps in the research on gendered work and family patterns. Further, in the context of growing inequality, they highlight the link between how couples negotiate roles and family earnings inequality over time and across countries, for example, assessing the extent to which increases in inequality may be driven by increases in work attachment among women with the highest earnings potential. We use life course methods and register data to analyze all Swedish couples with a first birth from 1977 to 2007, and we draw on comparable panel surveys in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. Our 4-year project sheds light on the role of normative and policy environments in shaping how couples negotiate work and family roles and, in turn, broader dimensions of social inequality.

Last updated on 2018-08-03 at 10:08