Gender equality perceptions, division of household work and partnership break-up in Sweden in early 21st century

Livia Olah, Stockholm University
Michael Gahler, Stockholm University

With the increase in female employment and the decrease in gender labour specialization there has also been a marked change in men’s and women’s gender role attitudes. An increasing share of both genders has come to prefer gender egalitarianism. Here we study the impact of gender equality perceptions, i.e. the interplay between gender role attitudes and behaviour in terms of sharing unpaid work with one’s partner, on partnership stability. We focus on Sweden, a country with long experience of the dual-earner model and policies supporting female labour-force participation while also promoting men’s active engagement in family tasks. We test four models of marriage (partnership): the companionate model, the institutional model, the equity model, and the gender model (see Wilcox & Nock 2006), all suggesting different associations between gender role attitudes, the gender division of paid and unpaid work, and the risk for divorce/separation. For the empirical analyses we use data from the Swedish Young Adult Panel Study (YAPS) conducted in 1999, 2003 and 2009. Parametric survival model (exponential model) is the tool of analysis. Our findings show that both women and men who hold gender egalitarian views but experience a traditional division of work in their partnership are substantially more likely to divorce/separate than those with egalitarian views who also share housework equally. These results speak in favour of the equity model of marriage. Next, we plan to analyze parents separately, taking into account their division of childcare work.

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Presented in Session 82: Ideals, values, and beliefs on family formation