Which Fathers Are Involved in Caring for Pre-school Age Children in the United Kingdom? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Influence of Work Hours in Employment on Shared Childcare Arrangments in Couple Households

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Fathers still put less time than mothers into the domestic tasks involved in looking after their children but across European countries, Australia, and North America, they are more involved than was the case for fathers 20 or 30 years ago (Hook, 2006). Gender inequalities are less pronounced in some countries, for example, Sweden, compared to other Western states (e.g., Craig and Mullen, 2011; Sullivan et al., 2009; OECD, 2010; Hook, 2006) and there is household variation within countries (Raley et al., 2012; Norman et al., 2014).This chapter examines fathers’ involvement in the domestic tasks of caring for their preschool children in the United Kingdom. The paternal involvement of direct engagement in childcare tasks is distinct from economic provision for the child’s well-being via employment (Dermott, 2003; also see Norman, 2015). We focus on the effect of the fathers’ and mothers’ employment hours on paternal involvement in childcare, and whether the way that parents’ organize their work and childcare arrangements in the first year of the child’s life influences paternal involvement as the child grows up.First we summarize the findings from previous research, followed by a description of recent developments in the United Kingdom’s statutory work-family reconciliation policies to support paternal involvement. Then we introduce the longitudinal Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), which we use to analyze father’s involvement in looking after their child at nine months after the birth and when the child is three years old. The analysis explores the impact of hours of employment, gender role attitudes, occupational class, and other household characteristics on paternal involvement. The conclusion discusses the policy implications.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBalancing Work and Family in a Changing Society
Subtitle of host publicationThe Fathers' Perspective
EditorsIsabella Crespi, Elisabetta Ruspini
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-59527-0, 1137595272
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

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