The Gendered Division of Paid Labour around Parenthood among Native and Migrant Origin Couples

Julie Maes , University of Antwerp
Leen Marynissen, University of Antwerp
Jonas Wood, University of Antwerp
Karel Neels, University of Antwerp

Although maternal employment has increased, the transition to parenthood produces and strengthens a gendered division of housework and childcare, as well as paid labour. Cross-sectional studies indicate that the employment gap between men and women is larger among migrants than natives, and particularly when they have children, however, our knowledge on the degree to which the gendered division of paid work around parenthood varies between native and migrant origin couples is hitherto rarely considered longitudinally. While micro-economic theories argue that more traditional gender dynamics among migrant origin couples result from stronger labour market positions for men than for women, cultural theories point to different gender norms compared to native couples. This contribution uses longitudinal data for Belgium (1999-2010) to investigate women’s relative work intensity in the household around the birth of the first child among migrant origin couples (one or both partners with a migration background) and native couples (both partners without a migration background). Fixed effects models are used to assess whether the gendered division of paid labour in migrant origin households is disproportionally affected by parenthood compared to native households and to what extent these differences can be explained by women’s pre-birth relative wage. Preliminary results suggest that whereas the division of paid labour around parenthood is more based on micro-economic theories among couples with women without a migration background, other factors play a more important role among couples with migrant origin women (e.g. employment stability, cultural norms).

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 Presented in Session 102. Parenthood and Paid/Unpaid Work