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A Life-Changing Event: First Births and Men’s and Women’s Attitudes to Mothering and Gender Divisions of Labor
Abstract

Abstract:

Previous research has shown that the transition to parenthood is a critical life-course stage. Using data from the Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey and fixed-effects panel regression models, we investigate changes in men’s and women’s attitudes to mothering and gender divisions of labor following the transition to parenthood. Key findings indicate that attitudes become more traditional after individuals experience the birth of their first child, with both men and women becoming more likely to support mothering as women’s most important role in life. We argue that these changes are due to both changes in identity and cognitive beliefs associated with the experience of becoming a parent, as well as institutional arrangements that support traditional gender divisions. More broadly, our results can be taken as strong evidence that attitudes are not stable over the life course and change with the experience of life events.