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

Student thesis: Phd


Most industrialised countries have witnessed a shift in the 'male breadwinner' modelof family life as new generations of mothers have increasingly combined employmentwith parenting responsibilities. This has had implications for the role of fathers andtheir contributions to childcare and domestic work have increased as a result.However the change in fathers' contributions has not kept pace with the change inwomen's economic activity, suggesting there are social, political, economic andcultural barriers in place.Two sweeps of the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) are used to explore some of theconditions under which fathers become more actively involved in childcare andhousework when cohort children are aged nine months and three years old. Thisquestion is examined cross-sectionally and longitudinally within the context of a twoparent,heterosexual household in Britain. Three data classification techniques areused to derive two latent measures that represent two dimensions of paternalinvolvement (engagement and responsibility). Multiple regression is used to modelinvolvement at aged nine months; logistic regression is used to model what type ofcaregiver a father is when the child is aged three.The main findings are:· Patterns of maternal and paternal employment have the strongest associationwith paternal involvement at both time points. When children are aged ninemonths, the hours that a mother works appear to have a stronger associationwith paternal involvement than fathers' own work hours (although this is stillimportant). The likelihood of a father being involved with his three year old alsoincreases dramatically the longer the hours the mother spends in paid work.Fathers' own work hours have a slightly stronger association with whether theytake on a primary caregiving role at age three.· There are considerable variations in involvement when the child is aged ninemonths 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 atage three. For example, fathers are more likely to be involved when their childis a boy, when there are no other children in the household and when they tookleave following their child's birth.The thesis exposes some of the employment and demographic conditions associatedwith greater paternal involvement with young children. In doing so it also brings tolight some of the barriers to greater gender equity in the division of domestic labour(childcare and housework). The findings emphasise the importance of employmenthours with long work hours hindering involvement and mothers' participation in thelabour market encouraging it. The thesis provides a foundation from which to developfurther analyses so that a better understanding of the variations in paternalinvolvement can be achieved.
Date of Award1 Aug 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMark Elliot (Supervisor) & Colette Fagan (Supervisor)


  • Fathers, fatherhood, paternal involvement, childcare, housework

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