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Gender Equality, Parenthood Attitudes, and First Births in Sweden

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  • Eva Bernhardt
  • Frances Goldscheider

Abstract

We analyse Swedish survey data on attitudes about parenthood among young adults aged 22-30 in 1999, and examine who became parents over the next four years. Our results show that while both men and women perceive more benefits to parenthood than costs, men are more likely than women to perceive both negative and positive consequences of parenthood. Further, gender role attitudes shape parental attitudes differentially for men and women. More egalitarian men perceive fewer costs and more egalitarian women perceive fewer benefits than those with more traditional gender role attitudes. Our analyses of the transition to parenthood indicate that, even controlling assessments of the costs and benefits of children, men with more traditional attitudes were more likely to become fathers at an early age, while gender role attitudes had no effect on women’s transition to parenthood. In contrast, there were no gender differentials in the effects of costs and benefits, each of which strongly affected the transition to parenthood, but, of course, in opposite directions. We interpret these findings to indicate that even in a country as far into the Second Demographic Transition as Sweden, negotiating shared parenthood is still sufficiently difficult that it depresses fertility, but now because of its impact on men.

Suggested Citation

  • Eva Bernhardt & Frances Goldscheider, 2006. "Gender Equality, Parenthood Attitudes, and First Births in Sweden," Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, vol. 4(1), pages 19-39.
  • Handle: RePEc:vid:yearbk:v:4:y:2006:i:1:p:19-39
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Peter McDonald, 2000. "Gender Equity in Theories of Fertility Transition," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 26(3), pages 427-439.
    2. Hans-Peter Kohler & Francesco C. Billari & José Antonio Ortega, 2002. "The Emergence of Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe During the 1990s," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(4), pages 641-680.
    3. Rodolfo Bulatao, 1981. "Values and disvalues of children in successive childbearing decisions," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, February.
    4. Valerie Oppenheimer, 2003. "Cohabiting and marriage during young men’s career-development process," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(1), pages 127-149, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sandra Krapf, 2009. "Childcare and family ideology in Sweden," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2009-044, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    2. Allan Puur & Livia Sz. Oláh & Mariam Irene Tazi-Preve & Jürgen Dorbritz, 2008. "Men's childbearing desires and views of the male role in Europe at the dawn of the 21st century," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(56), pages 1883-1912, November.
    3. Livia Sz. Oláh & Eva Bernhardt, 2008. "Sweden: Combining childbearing and gender equality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(28), pages 1105-1144, July.
    4. Ursula Henz, 2008. "Gender roles and values of children: Childless Couples in East and West Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(39), pages 1451-1500, August.

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