9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN13 Sociology of Families and Intimate Lives

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 The Social Construction of Parenting Building II, Audit├│rio B1.03

Are There Class Differentials in the Time Invested in Children and Attitudes towards Parenting?

Most research highlights the relevance of the environment lived in the family of origin during the early childhood to understand individuals┬┤ life course. Scholars agree that cognitive and non-cognitive abilities developed during the early years of life - when children are very dependent on parents - is explained by the quality of parental childcare. Cross-national research focussed on the trends of parental investment highlights two general findings. Firstly, it shows that high-educated mothers and fathers are more likely to invest in children than the low-educated ones. Secondly, theis literature shows that bargaining- power dialectics in couples, as well as working day schedules in the labour market, produce a variance on the degree of total time spent with children and the degree of sharing childcare responsibilities in nuclear families. However, we know very little about whether the way parents and mothers differ in parenting attitudes can be strongly explained by signifcant class differentials in the way parents invest in children.

This paper consists on a comparative analysis of the use and distribution of parental childcare among parents from different social backgrounds. I want to set into comparison three countries that represent different institutional contexts. The research compares United Kingdom, France and Spain. I use the Time Use Surveys of the three countries. The three datasets offer the possibility of analysing the allocation of childcare among mothers, but also among fathers cohabiting in the same household. This feature helps us to answer questions that are open in the current literature, since we can look at gender relations within the household, as well as at possible class differentials in relation childcare investments. Two are the main questions that I try to answer in this work: a) Are there cross-national differences in the way parents from different social classes invest in children? b) Can we find a significant impact of class on the way parents allocate their time in the different types of childcare?