Screenshot courtesy Letta Page
Screenshot courtesy Letta Page

Over at Families as They Really Are, Erin Anderson has posted about men’s lagging uptake of family leave when it is available. Over here, we have prepared a round-up on how men are doing in families by looking back at papers from the Council on Contemporary Families.

An issue related to use (or not) of family leave has to do with the underlying security of jobs: In the CCF June 2013 Symposium on the Equal Pay Act, economist Heidi Shierholz wrote about the erosion of men’s wages in the past few decades. She explains, “In the late 1970s, after a long period of holding fairly steady, the gap in wages between men and women began improving. In 1979, the median hourly wage for women was 62.7 percent of the median hourly wage for men; by 2012, it was 82.8 percent. However, a big chunk of that improvement—more than a quarter of it—happened because of men’s wage losses, rather than women’s wage gains.” Read more here.

Some models show how to change men’s behavior. Anita Patnaik wrote this spring about Quebec’s non transferrable leave program and the positive results. In particular, the study demonstrates just how effective this generous benefit is in getting fathers more involved at home. With new benefits, fathers increased their participation in parental leave by 250 percent. In households where men were given the opportunity to use this benefit, fathers’ daily time in household work was 23 percent higher, long after the leave period ended. Background and details of economist Ankita Patnaik’s innovative study are provided in this briefing report.

Men’s engagement is looking pretty good, too, to several international scholars.Oriel Sullivan and colleagues compare national patterns in gender equity and housework, and note in their 2015 CCF brief, that the trend of men’s engagement with family is fundamentally forward and upward. “We argue that like most momentous historical trends, we shouldn’t expect progress towards gender equality to happen in an uninterrupted way. Just as we still see cold snaps within a process of longer-term climatic warming, the progress of gender equality should be seen as a long-term, uneven process, rather than as a single, all-at-once revolution.” You can read more here.

Arielle Kuperberg, also writing in a 2015 CCF brief, highlights good news about men in families more recently, too. In a report on cohabitation trends and best methods for studying those trends, she finds that marriage doesn’t have the kind of traditionalizing impact on participants than it has in the past. In reviewing some of the 21st century data (versus data from the 1990s), she noted, “By 2001-3, however, men who had lived together before marriage and men who were living together without marriage and thought they would marry their partner were doing the same amount and the same type of housework. This suggests that marriage had ceased to have any effect in making men feel that they ought to play more traditional roles, or can opt out of less traditional ones.” She notes, however, that when children arrive, some of this ground is lost. Read her report here.

Originally posted 9/30/15


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *