How fathers and mothers share childcare: a cross-national time-use comparison

Lyn Craig, Killian Mullan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In most families today, childcare remains divided unequally between fathers and mothers. Scholars argue that persistence of the gendered division of childcare is due to multiple causes, including values about gender and family, disparities in paid work, class, and social context. It is likely that all of these factors interact, but to date researchers have not explored such interactions. To address this gap, we analyze nationally representative time-use data from Australia, Denmark, France, and Italy. These countries have different employment patterns, social and family policies, and cultural attitudes toward parenting and gender equality. Using data from matched married couples, we conduct a cross-national study of mothers’ and fathers’ relative time in childcare, divided along dimensions of task (i.e., routine versus non-routine activities) and co-presence (i.e., caring for children together as a couple versus caring solo). Results show that mothers’ and fathers’ work arrangements and education relate modestly to shares of childcare, and this relationship differs across countries. We find cross-national variation in whether more equal shares result from the behavior of mothers, fathers, or both spouses. Results illustrate the relevance of social context in accentuating or minimizing the impact of individual- and household-level characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)834-861
JournalAmerican Sociological Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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