Fathers' Involvement: Interpreting Fathers' Contemporary Practices in Childcare By Contrasting Different Measures

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Thordis REIMER, University of Hamburg, Germany
The gender division of paid and unpaid labor is rapidly changing, since women are increasingly entering the labour market. In Germany, this development is intensified by the new paid parental leave policies introduced in 2007 which provide exclusive entitlements for the father.

Still, there is an ongoing question of how to understand fathers’ practices and therefore fatherhood in contemporary times. In recent studies, there are two main indicators for fathers’ practices: their amount of time spent on childcare and their use of paid parental leave. Often defined as “paternal involvement”, these practices are meant to indicate the fathers’ engagement with their children as opposed to the fathers’ engagement for their children within the male breadwinner model. In times where the dual earner model is on the rise, studies sometimes go beyond absolute measures of fathers’ practices and analyze the relative practices (i.e. compared to their partner).

However, few studies integrate the examination of fathers’ childcare and fathers’ paid parental leave use as well as the examination of the absolute with the relative practices of fathers. With my analysis I aim at contributing to the questions (1) how fathers’ (absolute and relative) practices can be explained (2) and how the two indicators of fathers’ practices relate to each other.

For the analyses, German panel data (SOEP) with fathers of children born between 2007 and 2011 are used. In four negative binomial regression models socioeconomic factors, workplace factors and partner data are combined as explanatory variables to explain fathers’ (absolute and relative) daily childcare and fathers’ (absolute and relative) paid parental leave use.

These analyses will allow an interpretation of fathers’ practices as well as the parents’ division of paid and unpaid labour, and at the same time make it possible to reflect on indicators of fatherly engagement.