Are step families’ couples more egalitarian? Gender gap in labor market participation in a cross national perspective

Rocio Treviño-Maruri, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Iñaki Permanyer
Jordi Gumà, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The aim of this paper is to analyze if couples from step-families have more gender-egalitarian relationships than other couples. The analysis focuses on gender gaps in labor market participation of both types of couples in a cross national perspective. Homogenity patterns in couples’ participation in the labour market are viewed as an indicator of gender equality. Do step-families’ couples show higher homogenity patterns in labor market participation than non step-families’ couples?. Using census microdata for eight European countries from the IPUMS-International Website, this paper raises this question in order to discuss if this new type of couples show evidence of higher gender equity levels. The selected countries have different degrees of step-families’ diffusion, they have different institutional contexts and prevailing gender values. Descriptive analysis and multilevel multivariable modelling (multilevel logistic regression analysis) are used to get a better understanding of the differences in gendered labor patterns between women in step and non step-family couples. The key question, however, is whether couples in step-families are a distinct group due to composition effects or due to their higher expectations of individual autonomy and gender equality. This is a relevant question because extended families are becoming an increasingly widespread option for organizing family life and because most studies focusing on this type of family have emphasized that extended families might have negative effects on children’s wellbeing. If children acquire gender roles by imitating role models, higher gender equality among step-families’ couples would point towards a more positive picture for its implications for children’s well-being.

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Presented in Session 4: Dynamics of remarriage and stepfamilies