Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

The origins of New Zealand’s gender attitudes and inequality

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
Motu Economic and Public Policy Research
Lead Researcher:
Livvy Mitchell, Isabelle Sin, Maanaima Soa, Colleen Ward, James Hudson
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Family and Whanau
Secondary Classification:
Health and Wellbeing

Existing research, both from developed countries, such as the U.S., and developing countries, shows parents invest in and interact with male and female children differently, and that they transmit gender norms such as (lack of) female labour force participation to their children.

This research will use regression analysis to investigate in a modern-day New Zealand setting how the nature and extent of mothers’ and fathers’ interactions with their child depend on the sex of the child. It will consider a wide range of outcomes such as how much leave the parent takes, how involved they are in the care of the child, the types of activities they do with the child, how comfortable with and connected to the child they feel, and the qualities and values they want to impart to the child. We will collaborate with experts in the Maori, Pasifika and Asian cultural spaces to understand what culture-specific parenting outcomes should also be considered in this phase. To the extent that the data allow, we will include these outcomes in our analysis.

We will then investigate how any differences in the treatment of male and female children differ by the biological sex of the parent, the child’s age, the antenatal employment or earnings gap between the mother and father, the socioeconomic status of the family, and the ethnic background of the parents.

This research will improve our understanding of whether and how boys and girls in New Zealand are treated differently by their parents from an early age, and how this relates to the situation of their parents. It will thus help shed light on the childhood origins of gender inequality and how gender roles and norms are transmitted between generations.