A critical juncture for the reproduction and augmentation of gender inequalities in the labour market is the transition to parenthood and the associated increased gender differences in work and care. The reasons for the differences in work and care vary and can be linked to theories on relative resources/bargaining, specialization, identity formation and gender norms. A problem with this research so far has been the inability to separate gender and the social construction of motherhood and fatherhood identities from financially rational decision making.

This problem arises, we argue, partly based on the focus on heterosexual couples and the fact that within couple income inequality in these couples often is gendered. In an attempt to address this problem, we study parental leave uptake linked to first birth in female same-sex couples compared to opposite-sex couples.

We study how theories of specialization, relative resource bargaining, identity formation and the social construction of gender plays out in these couples by comparing how factors such as own and partners’ income, age and education link to the division of parental leave.