Author Archives

Regula Zimmerman

Research Findings

Does money shape couples’ labor division after the birth of their first child?

September 21, 2023

After the birth of their first child, different sex couples often opt for a gendered labor division, with mothers assuming more of the primary responsibility for childcare, which often leads to a reduction in their salaried working hours, while fathers continue full-time employment. In my research, I analyzed the role financial aspects play when new parents negotiate their labor division. What role do childcare costs play when parents decide whether to work outside the home or take care of their children by themselves? Are mothers more likely to reduce their paid working hours and take on more unpaid work than fathers, because, on average, they earn less?

To answer these questions, I traced the financial decisions of 54 parents (27 couples) living in Switzerland. While most of the couples belonged to the middle-class, their income configurations varied: before childbirth, the man earned more than the woman did in 12 couples.  In 9 couples, both parents earned the same.  In 6 couples, the woman earned more than the man did. Each parent was interviewed once before and once or twice in the first two years after the birth of their first child. This longitudinal data with more than 130 in-depth interviews provided a detailed picture of how the couples navigated their financial decisions.

Continue Reading…