The division of household labour among dual-earner parents in Norway - The effect of employment schedules

Silje Vatne Pettersen, Statistics Norway

A more equal sharing of paid and unpaid labour between mothers and fathers has been an important objective in Norwegian work-family policy for decades. It has been a goal to facilitate the labour participation of mothers and to increase the fathers' involvement in child-care and housework. Incentives such as extended parental leave, introduction of the father quota, flexible working hours and more subsidized kindergartens have proven successful. Mothers' participation in the labour force has increased substantially and more fathers share the parental leave with the mother. Despite numerous government incentives, fathers' time spent on household labour has changed little in the last 30 years. As a result, Norwegian researchers are interested in exploring why household tasks are not more equally shared, and in particular why fathers do not participate more at home. This study is a contribution to the current discussion on fathers' involvement in Norway, and the first quantitative analysis exploring the impact of the parents' employment schedules on the sharing of household tasks. We use a nationally representative survey conducted by Statistics Norway in 2002 to examine the impact of the parents' employment schedules on the division of childcare and housework. Contrary to our expectations and findings from the U.S. (Presser 1988, 1994) our preliminary analysis indicates that couples with different employment schedules do not share household tasks more equally than other couples. Norwegian parents' sharing of all household tasks depends more on how much they work, rather than when they work. The father's contribution at home increases with the mother's working hours and his time available away from work, regardless of the parents' working schedules. We suggest that this may be due in part to the extensive child-care benefits in Norway.

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Presented in Poster Session 1