Studying Care, Doing Care: Does the Field of Study Affect Men''s Involvement in Unpaid Work? a Comparison between Norway, Austria and Poland

Teresa Martín-García, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Cristina Solera, University of Turin

Among the vast literature on the gender division of unpaid work and the so-called “new fathers”, it is a consolidated evidence that not only her but also his level of education matter. However, although shown relevant for other behaviors such as first union or first child, to the best of our knowledge no study has so far examined the role of type of education for men’s share of domestic and care work. By drawing from the Generation and Gender Survey and by comparing three countries (Norway, Austria and Poland) with distinctive cultural and institutional settings, in this paper we focus on couples with young children and we explore whether, controlling for his and her level of education and labor market position, there is a higher time involvement in unpaid work among men trained in fields in which a large majority of students are women and where traditional stereotypical female qualities prevail such as those concerned with the care of individuals and/or which emphasize interpersonal skills compared to those in male-dominated technical fields.

We expect these men to have different involvement in unpaid work, especially in fathering, due to already-existing attitudes and values when choosing type of education; their family-oriented socialization during the formative years; and cost-benefit calculations concerning their occupations and career paths. The findings show that traditional female fields are not more decisive for sharing childcare than for housework and, although not so clearly distinctive, there is a positive association between men studying in certain traditional fields and their involvement in unpaid work. As expected, these effects appear more pronounced in Austria and especially in Poland vs. Norway since more traditional gender norms and less institutional support for a “dual earner-dual carer” model may hinder men (and women) to follow their preferences, as captured by type of education.


Presented in Session 1104: Families and Households