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The New Shape of Family-Related Gender Stratification

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NEWFAMSTRAT (The New Shape of Family-Related Gender Stratification)

Berichtszeitraum: 2019-08-01 bis 2021-01-31

Despite women’s significant increase in educational attainment and employment participation over the past few decades, gender inequality persists in affluent countries. Gender economic inequality is an important societal problem, because it increases the risk of poverty and other vulnerabilities for women as well as children. Indeed, the European Union’s social investment strategy aims to tackle these intra- and inter-generational inequalities because they inhibit economic growth as well as individual quality of life.

Social science research to date, however, has not fully accounted for the inequality between women and men, or exactly why it varies across countries. In addition, researchers as well as policy makers often ignore that both the reasons for family-related inequalities and their relative economic outcomes can differ substantially among women and among men. Gender equality will remain elusive until we fully understand how both between- and within-gender inequalities are configured in modern societies.

The overall objective of the NEWFAMSTRAT project, therefore, is to fill this void in our understanding through four subprojects, which unpack how both between- and within-gender inequality is configured at multiple levels: individual, couple, organizational, and socio-political. The socio-political context is taken into account by comparing gender dynamics in Britain, Finland, and Germany in four subprojects. These countries contrast in their relative degree of gender and class equality in paid and unpaid work. The first subproject will analyze British, Finnish, and German panel data to assess how family-related wage effects vary among women and among men. In addition to helping us improve theory, results will provide insight into where policies might better support all individuals as workers and parents. The second subproject explores British and German within-household gender wage gaps, and whether equality in paid and unpaid work is equally “good” for all couples. Specifically we assess whether greater within-household equality in paid and unpaid work similarly increases or decreases the risk of couple separation among low- versus more highly-educated British and German couples. The third and fourth subprojects explore the role of employers and organizations in structuring gender economic inequality predicted by parenthood. Subproject 3 gathers primary data on the British, Finnish, and German labor markets to examine gender and skill differences in the impact of parenthood on getting a job. In the fourth subproject, we use Finnish linked employee-employer panel data to assess the role of establishments in configuring wage outcomes predicted by parenthood. We will also assess whether wage differences persist when comparing parents with childless workers in the same job and establishment. This is a more precise indicator of the gender and parental wage “gap” than the population-wide gap reported in official statistics and most research to date.

Together these analyses will locate the pockets of progress where equality gains continue to be made, as well as where barriers remain and how they differ among women and men in different contexts. The insights can inform not only new theory development, but also better equal opportunity and family policies.
"Thus far the project has resulted in 5 published pieces (all open-access, two green), 4 plenary/keynotes, 7 international conference presentations, and 5 working papers, along with several invited research seminars. In the first year of the project, while getting the full-time project team members in place and selecting the doctoral student, the PI gave a public lecture [1] and associated essay on the limits of a social investment strategy for achieving gender equality [A], and wrote a chapter on family inequalities in context [B], which was presented as a keynote at two international conferences [2, 4]. The PI also spent time with colleagues at the WZB in Berlin in 2017 to learn processes for fielding correspondence studies similar to subproject 3. In addition, the PI finalized collaborations with North American colleagues to develop related theory, refine the use of the semi-parametric approach central to two of the subprojects [C], and gain experience analyzing the special organizational data to be used for the fourth subproject [D, E].

Insights from [C] framed a subsequent analysis of Finnish data with a visiting doctoral student. In the Finnish paper (WP1), we analyzed whether patterns of wage repercussions are similar to those found for the US, or instead explain why the take-up of parental leave among Finnish fathers, particularly low-wage fathers, remains much lower than among mothers. In contrast to the US results, only lower-wage Finnish fathers faced subsequent wage penalties after taking parental leave beyond statutory paternity leave. In addition, the introduction of the “daddy’s month” in 2003 did increase all Finnish fathers’ take-up of the parental leave, but more among high- than low-wage fathers. The wage penalties for low-wage fathers taking parental leave persisted after the reform.

Team analyses within three further working papers are in process for subproject 1 [WP2, WP3, WP4], comparing the impact of parenthood across the wage distribution in Finland, Germany, and the UK, to theorize how the policy and market context alter the stratifying impact of parenthood among and between the two genders. Some of these are specifically testing the impact of policies and policy reforms encouraged by the European Union. Preliminary results suggest, not surprisingly, that family policies affect mothers’ wages more than fathers’ [5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

The PI’s collaborative organizational analyses in year 1 to 2 supported new theory development to be tested in subproject 4, that skill differences in organizational opportunity structures account for skill differences in fatherhood wage premiums [D, E]. We are in the process of extending this analysis to Finnish men, and finding even more ways in which men at different skill levels leverage organizational characteristics to maximize their fatherhood wage premium. The team members involved in analyzing the linked employee-employer data have also participated in two workshops of the international Comparative Organizational Inequality Network (COIN) in 2018 and early 2019. This network provides both advice on methodological issues and opportunities for further collaborations. The PI also organized a conference stream on role of workplaces in structuring group inequalities vis-à-vis social policies for the 2018 annual ESPAnet meeting in Vilnius.

Since the start of the second year of the project, much of the time of three full-time team members and three part-time assistants has been devoted to developing the materials for the only primary data gathering of the project (subproject 3): assessment of how competitive low-, medium-, and high-skilled parents are in British, Finnish, and German labor markets. The PI and team members benefited from generous guidance and discussions in person and electronically with academics completing similar research designs, through site visits to the WZB in Berlin, and by hosting a methodology workshop 19-20 October 2017 in Bath. The developed field materials have been validated by employer experts, as well as in student laboratory sessions in Finland and the UK. The German materials are in the process of being expert validated. The team has also worked with software programmers to automate aspects of the field work that are either especially time-consuming, or most prone to human error.

A. Cooke, LP (2016). “Gender Equality Levers at the State-Market Nexus: Bringing Organizations Back In.” Research on Finnish Society 9: 45-49. Open access.
B. Cooke, LP. 2018. “The Pathology of Patriarchy and Family Inequalities.” In Unequal Family Lives: Causes and Consequences in Europe and the Americas, edited by Naomi Cahn, June Carbone, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Laurie DeRose. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Open access:
C. Cooke, LP and JL Hook. (2018). “Productivity or Gender? The Impact of Domestic Tasks across Women’s and Men’s Wage Distributions.” Journal of Marriage and Family 80(3) 721-36 DOI: 10.1111/jomf.12467 Green Open Access.
D. Cooke, LP and S Fuller. (2018). “Class Differences in Establishment Pathways to Fatherhood Wage Premiums.” Journal of Marriage and Family 80(3): 737-51. DOI:10.1111/jomf.12475 Green Open Access.
E. Fuller, S and LP Cooke. (2018). “Workplace Variation in Fatherhood Wage Premiums: Do Formalization and Performance Pay Matter?” Work, Employment and Society. DOI: 10.1177/0950017018764534. Open Access
Keynotes and conference presentations:
1. Cooke, LP. “Gender Equality at the State-Market Nexus: Bringing Organizations Back In.” Invited public lecture, University of Turku, 15 September 2016.
2. KEYNOTE: Cooke, LP. “The Pathology of Patriarchy and Family Inequalities.” Keynote, Nordic Demographic Symposium, Turku, Finland, 14 - 16 June 2017.
3. Cooke, LP and R Icardi. “Divorce and Changes in Wages among British Men: Cause or Consequence?” 15th Meeting of the European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce. Antwerp 5-7 October 2017.
4. KEYNOTE: Cooke, LP. “The Pathology of Gender Inequality.” Trends in Inequality International Conference, Carlo Cattaneo Research Institute, Bologna, Italy 2- 4 November 2017.
5. Cooke, LP, AE Hagglund, and R Icardi. “Fatherhood Premiums across the Wage Distribution in Britain, Finland and Germany.” 2018 conference of the Work and Family Researchers Network, Washington DC 21-23 June 2018.
6. Cooke, LP and AE Hagglund. “Selection, Motivation, or Discrimination? Establishment Sorting and the Finnish Fatherhood Wage Premium.” 2018 conference of the Work and Family Researchers Network, Washington DC 21-23 June 2018.
7. PLENARY: Cooke, LP. “Policy and the Family Wage Gap.”16th annual ESPAnet conference, Vilnius, Lithuania, 30 August – 1 September 2018.
8. PLENARY, Cooke, LP. “Policy, Gender, and the Family Wage Gap.” University of Bath Institute for Policy Research Feminist Symposium, 13 September 2018.
9. Cooke, LP, AE Hagglund, and R Icardi. “Fatherhood Premiums across the Wage Distribution in Britain, Finland and Germany.” 2018 conference of the British Society for Population Studies, Winchester, UK, 10-12 September 2018.
10. Icardi, R , AE Hagglund, and M Fernandez-Salgado. “Fatherhood Premiums across the Wage Distribution in Britain, Finland and Germany.” 39th Kongress Globaler und Lokaler Entwicklungen, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Sociology. University of Gottengen, 24 – 28 September 2018.
11. Icardi, R, AE Hagglund, and M Fernandez-Salgado. “Fatherhood Premiums across the Wage Distribution in Britain, Finland and Germany.” 2018 conference of the European Consortium for Sociological Research, 29-31 October 2018, Paris.

Working papers:
WP1: Morosow, K and LP Cooke. “Why Daddy Doesn’t Do It: Paternal Leave Effects across the Wage Distribution.” Under review.
WP2: Icardi, R, AE Hagglund, and M Fernandez-Salgado. “Fatherhood Premiums across the Wage Distribution in Britain and Germany.”
WP3: Cooke, LP, AE Hagglund, and R Icardi, “The Shape of Parental Wage Effects among British, Finnish, and German Women and Men.”
WP4: Hagglund AE and R Icardi, “Are Parenthood Wage Effects Influenced by Changes in Family Policies in Germany and Finland?”
WP5: Cooke, LP and AE Hagglund. “Educational Differences in Employment Sources of Finnish Men’s Family Wage Premiums.”
Insights from the research already challenge conventional wisdom. For example, current theory suggests that an increase in unpaid domestic work should have a similarly negative wage effect for everyone, because it detracts from the effort available for employment. We instead find that greater time doing housework predicts a larger penalty for low- than high-wage US women, in part because low-wage women do more housework to start with [C]. The reverse is true among US men, however; increasing their time spent doing housework predicts a sizeable wage penalty only for the highest-wage men. Critically, the analyses suggest that men’s equal participation in both housework and childcare would cost most men nothing economically, contrary to one theoretical reason offered why they don’t do more unpaid domestic tasks.

At the same time, however, effects differ with the nature of the unpaid work and societal context. Among Finnish fathers, taking parental leave beyond paternity leave predicted a significant wage penalty only for low-wage fathers, even after the 2003 introduction of a “father’s month.” These findings indicate that even progressive policies are not addressing the economic barriers faced by low-wage men to be more involved in family care work [WP1]. Similarly, policy reforms intended to equalize gender divisions of paid or unpaid labor associated with family do not necessarily narrow between- or within-gender wage effects of having children in Britain, Finland, or Germany [WP3, WP4].

New theory came out of the PI’s collaborations on organizational analyses using Canadian data, specifically that there are group differences in the organizational pathways to fatherhood wage premiums [D]. Formalized organizational processes, however, such as collective bargaining agreements and merit-based pay can reduce both fatherhood wage premiums and skill differences among men in these [E]. In addition, the first analysis of Finnish linked employee-employer panel data reveals the importance of relational element behind group differences in fatherhood wage effects. In this case, highly-educated fathers working in firms with, on average, less-skilled workers earned larger net wage premiums than high-skilled fathers working in firms with more highly-skilled workers [WP5]. This suggests the context in which skilled workers can exploit the surplus value of less-skilled workers.

The unique cross-skill, cross-country design of subproject 3 allowed us to set up competing hypotheses, the results of which will offer a substantial contribution to our understanding of the employer perspectives that result in parental wage effects. The data to test those hypotheses will be gathered over the next 18 months.