Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

Fathers’ household and childcare involvement in New Zealand: A snapshot, determinants and consequences

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
Lead Researcher:
Juliane Hennecke, Lisa Meehan, Gail Pacheco, Alexandra Turcu
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Family and Whanau
Secondary Classification:
Psych and Cog

There is growing national and international interest among academics and policymakers in paternal family engagement and division of domestic duties in households. Numerous international studies have focussed on the difference between mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in domestic duties, the so-called ‘gender care gap’. This gap is evident in nearly all developed countries and persists despite increases in female labour force participation. The gap has potentially significant consequences for gender equality, as it is likely to be an underlying driver of gender differences in labour force participation, career advancement, occupational choice and wage rates. Furthermore, it could have important consequences for children’s development and wellbeing. The New Zealand evidence on this front is sparse. This project will therefore contribute to the limited knowledge in this space by delivering a thorough analysis of the involvement of fathers in their children's upbringing and other domestic duties in New Zealand using data from the Growing up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) survey.

There are three research objectives. First, we will provide a snapshot of fathers’ engagement during the early years of their children’s lives. This will be done by using information on parental leave taking, self-reported day-to-day involvement, hours spent on housework as well as the frequency of child interaction activities such as playing and reading books. This overview will be complemented by a comparison with mothers’ engagement, as well as a comparison of actual paternal involvement with antenatal anticipated involvement.

Second, we will analyse the external and internal determinants of different levels of paternal involvement. This will be done by estimating conditional associations between reported engagement and individual characteristics such as labour market status, education, relationship to the child and the mother, availability/use of external help, as well as inherent norms, values and traits such as parental identity, the perceptions of a fair division of domestic duties and psychological traits.

For our third and final objective, we will analyse the potential consequences of different levels of paternal involvement on children’s later outcomes.