These are my values, ...

These are my values, ...

... and if you don't like them... well, I have others  (Groucho Marx)

My research documents that upon becoming parents, mothers and fathers are more likely to agree with statements pertaining traditional gender norms. Mothers, for instance, assign greater value to the family (having children as a precondition for fulfillment) and lower to labor market (men should have priority access to scarce jobs). Fathers also give greater importance to the family, and that children suffer when women work full time. One is entitled to ask, what is behind this Marxian change in values? Is it just maternal instinct or is there something else at work?

 

The proposed hypothesis is that parents, experiencing difficulties in reconciling work and care, might resort to traditional arrangements for dividing tasks between them. More progressive parents who are ``forced'' into traditional arrangements might experience more cognitive dissonance, leading to a re-evaluation of their expressed values to be in consonance with their experience. While testing directly for the timing of events is not possible (it would require an awful lot of very invasive data), a comparative analysis could shed some light. I find that the change in norms is more prevalent in countries with lower institutionalized childcare, where women shoulder a larger share of household responsibilities, and where the distinction of roles across genders is more pronounced. In short, these are countries where one would expect parents to have greater difficulty in reconciling work and care. Perhaps surprisingly, estimated changes are similar if we were to distinguish between Central and Eastern European countries from their Western peers.

 

The research is still in an early stage, so all comments are more than welcome.