Journal Article

Housework, gender role attitudes, and couples’ fertility intentions: Reconsidering men’s roles in gender theories of family change

Gender theories of family change argue that as men take on increasing roles in the home, fertility may recover from low levels because women experience reduced work-family conflict and have correspondingly higher fertility intentions. Examining these theories through the lens of couples, rather than of women, we suggest a scenario that may lead to different predictions. With increases in men’s contributions to domestic labor, men themselves may experience the pinch of greater work-family conflict, which may in turn have depressing effects on couples’ fertility intentions. Analyses of six waves of data, spanning the period 1992–2014 and taken from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, show that men’s housework increases with each additional child, and that more egalitarian men increase their housework more with each child. However, men’s contributions to housework do not carry over into consensus concerning partners’ intentions to have at least one more child.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.