The Parents Are All Right

Kevin Lewis

May 23, 2021

Trends in Mothers' Parenting Time by Education and Work From 2003 to 2017
Kate Prickett & Jennifer March Augustine
Demography, forthcoming


Scholars have been increasingly concerned about the rise in “intensive mothering” and its implications for the well-being of children and women and for inequality more broadly. These concerns, however, reflect a key assumption: that socioeconomic disparities in mothers' parenting time observed in earlier eras have continued to grow. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) from 2003–2005 and 2015–2017 (n = 13,755), we test this assumption by examining whether maternal education gaps in active time spent with children have persisted across the 2000s. We pay particular attention to the continued socioeconomic bifurcation in women's access to full-time stable work, assessing whether changes in the education-related time gap are due to changes in who works and how much. We find that the gap in active childcare time between mothers with a college degree and those without has closed dramatically. Although some of this narrowing was driven by declines in time among college-educated mothers, most was driven by increases among mothers with less education. These trends, however, are observed only among mothers who were not employed full-time. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition analyses further reveal that although most of the increase in active care time among nonworking mothers with less education was attributable to behavioral change, 58% of the decline among nonworking, college-educated mothers was a result of sociodemographic compositional changes. These findings illuminate population-level trends in mothers' active parenting time, provide insights into the driving factors, and help update theories, qualitative findings, and policy considerations related to mothers' and children's well-being.

The Effect of Children's Gender on Parents’ Attitudes Toward Women
Nicole Wesley & James Garand
Social Science Quarterly, forthcoming


Scholars have found that the gender of children -- particularly, having daughters -- has a discernible effect on parents’ attitudinal and behavioral support for the empowerment of women. In this article, we explore how the gender of children affects the gender attitudes of parents. Using data from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) survey, we estimate the effects of children's gender on parents’ feminist self‐identification, support for more women representatives, and attitudes toward traditional gender roles, both in general and separately for men and women. Surprisingly, we find that sons -- and not daughters -- have a systematic negative effect on feminist self‐identification and support for electing more women, as well as a positive effect on support for traditional gender roles. The effects of sons on feminist self‐identification and traditional gender roles are observed for both men and women, while the effects of sons on support for more women representatives are limited to women. It appears that having a son decreases support for feminist and egalitarian gender attitudes in both men and women to varying degrees across a variety of dimensions.

The Effects of Manipulated and Biographical Parent Disengagement on the Sexually Risky Attitudes and Intentions of College Women
Lisa Bohon et al.
Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2021, Pages 151–164


The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether manipulated and biographical parent disengagement were associated with sexually risky attitudes and intentions. College women (N = 140) completed an online experiment in which they were asked to recall a time when one of their parents (father or mother) was either engaged or disengaged, write about it, and then complete a series of inventories measuring their sexual attitudes, sexual intentions, and biographical information. Experimental data were analyzed using a 2 (Parent Prime: father or mother) × 2 (Engagement Prime: engaged or disengaged) ANCOVA, with the Mini-K (Figueredo et al., Developmental Review 26:243–275, 2006) as the covariate. Experimental results showed a significant main effect for the engagement prime on sexually risky attitudes and intentions, F(1, 98) = 4.34, p = .04, η2partial = .04. Women who recalled a time when a parent was disengaged (M = 24.25, SD = 6.84), endorsed more sexually risky attitudes and intentions than those who recalled a time when a parent was engaged (M = 21.83, SD = 7.31). Consistent with these results, correlational analyses also revealed that childhood and current biographical parent disengagement were significantly associated with sexually risky attitudes and intentions. Results are discussed from an evolutionary perspective using Life History Theory.

Changes in Couples' Earnings Following Parenthood and Trends in Family Earnings Inequality
Pilar Gonalons-Pons, Christine Schwartz & Kelly Musick
Demography, forthcoming


The growing economic similarity of spouses has contributed to rising income inequality across households. Explanations have typically centered on assortative mating, but recent work has argued that changes in women's employment and spouses' division of paid work have played a more important role. We expand this work to consider the critical turning point of parenthood in shaping couples' division of employment and earnings. Drawing on three U.S. nationally representative surveys, we examine the role of parenthood in spouses' earnings correlations between 1968 and 2015. We examine the extent to which changes in spouses' earnings correlations are due to (1) changes upon entry into marriage (assortative mating), (2) changes between marriage and parenthood, (3) changes following parenthood, and (4) changes in women's employment. Our findings show that increases in the correlation between spouses' earnings prior to 1990 came largely from changes between marriage and first birth, but increases after 1990 came almost entirely from changes following parenthood. In both instances, changes in women's employment are key to increasing earnings correlations. Changes in assortative mating played little role in either period. An assessment of the aggregate-level implications points to the growing significance of earnings similarity after parenthood for rising income inequality across families.

Making Big Decisions: The Impact of Moves on Marriage among U.S. Army Personnel
Susan Payne Carter & Abigail Wozniak
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming


We use exogenously determined, long-distance relocations of U.S. Army soldiers to investigate the impact of moving on marriage. In an event study analysis, we find that marriage rates increase sharply around the time of a move. Reduced form exposure analysis reveals that an additional move over a five year period increases the likelihood of marriage by 14 percent, a magnitude similar to those in observational data on civilians. Moves increase childbearing by a similar magnitude, suggesting that marriages induced by a move are formed with long-term intentions. We explore implications of our findings for theories of marriage related to search, bargaining, and decision-making costs.


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