Involved fatherhood: an analysis of the conditions associated with paternal involvement in childcare and housework

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


Most industrialised countries have witnessed a shift in the ‘male breadwinner’ model of family life as new generations of mothers have increasingly combined employment with parenting responsibilities. This has had implications for the role of fathers and their contributions to childcare and domestic work have increased as a result. However the change in fathers’ contributions has not kept pace with the change in women’s economic activity, suggesting there are social, political, economic and cultural barriers in place. Two sweeps of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) are used to explore some of the conditions under which fathers become more actively involved in childcare and housework when cohort children are aged nine months and three years old. This question is examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally within the context of a two-parent, heterosexual household in Britain. Three data classification techniques are used to derive two latent measures that represent two dimensions of paternal involvement (engagement and responsibility). Multiple regression is used to model involvement at aged nine months; logistic regression is used to model what type of caregiver a father is when the child is aged three.The main findings are: • Patterns of maternal and paternal employment have the strongest association with paternal involvement at both time points. When children are aged nine months, the hours that a mother works appear to have a stronger association with paternal involvement than fathers’ own work hours (although this is still important). The likelihood of a father being involved with his three year old also increases dramatically the longer the hours the mother spends in paid work. Fathers’ own work hours have a slightly stronger association with whether they take on a primary caregiving role at age three.• There are considerable variations in involvement when the child is aged nine months by ethnicity as involvement is lower for fathers with an Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi background. Responsibility for housework, however, is slightly higher for black/black British fathers.• Various demographics also have a small association with involved fathering at age three. For example, fathers are more likely to be involved when their child is a boy, when there are no other children in the household and when they took leave following their child’s birth.The thesis exposes some of the employment and demographic conditions associated with greater paternal involvement with young children. In doing so it also brings to light some of the barriers to greater gender equity in the division of domestic labour (childcare and housework). The findings emphasise the importance of employment hours with long work hours hindering involvement and mothers’ participation in the labour market encouraging it. The thesis provides a foundation from which to develop further analyses so that a better understanding of the variations in paternal involvement can be achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Manchester
Thesis sponsors
Place of PublicationManchester
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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