Fathering Over Time : What Makes the Difference?

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Journal Name
Journal of marriage and the family
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Aldous, Joan.
Mulligan, Gail M.
Bjarnason, Thoroddur.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
This article examines how much fathers participate in child care, an important component of domestic duties, and factors related to it. It has the advantage of longitudinal data, so that it is possible to look at changes in fathers' participation and factors affecting changes and continuities over time. The data come from the 1987-1988 and 1992-1993 National Surveys of Families and Households. The sample is restricted to White, two-parent families with at least one child younger than 5 years of age at the time of the first survey. The analyses control for the number of children and the gender of the child for whom there is fathering information. Based on prior theories and research, the study variables related to fathers' child care include performance of household tasks, their marital quality, gender role ideologies, perceptions of the fairness of the division of domestic labor, and the mothers' child-care hours. The labor-force variables are the husbands' and wives' hours of paid employment, as well as the earned incomes of husbands and wives. The findings indicate that hours on the job keep some men from active fathering, but if they begin taking care of young children, a continuing pattern is established. Mothers' child-care hours are positively related to fathers' child care, and fathers do more with sons. The discussion places the findings in theoretical context. (Author abstract)

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