Project leader

Ann-Zofie Duvander

Funding source

FORTE and the Swedish Research Council


This project contributes a historical and cross-national perspective to understanding his and her work and earnings’ trajectories following parenthood in Sweden, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Women continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of domestic responsibilities, despite increases in labor force attachment and earnings. The transition to parenthood is a particularly salient turning point, when mothers cut back at work and earnings differentials between partners widen. Against the backdrop of significant changes in gender ideologies, labor market opportunities, and work-family constraints, this project addresses the following questions: Have men’s and women’s employment responses to childbirth become more symmetrical over time? Are gender disparities in partners’ earnings smaller in Sweden than in countries that pay less attention to gender equality at work and home? What are the implications of gendered changes in employment among parents for social inequality? These questions tap critical gaps in the research on gendered work and family patterns. Further, in the context of growing inequality, they highlight the link between couple-level processes and family earnings inequality over time and across countries, for example, assessing the extent to which increases in inequality may be driven by increases in work attachment among women with the highest earnings potential. We use life course methods and register data to analyze all Swedish couples with a first birth from 1977 to 2007, and we draw on comparable panel surveys in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. Our project sheds light on the role of normative and policy environments in shaping how couples negotiate work and family roles and, in turn, broader dimensions of social inequality. Aims will be carried out by an international team of researchers from Stockholm University and Cornell University with expertise in family change, work-family policy, and comparative panel data analysis.