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Surprising Science

Study: Gender Equality in the Household Benefits Parents, Entire Family

A two-generation Swedish study found that couples who share work, home, and family responsibilities experience benefits both in the household and in the father's career. Interestingly though, their children by and large have chosen not to do the same.

Many sociologists, psychologists, and armchair culture warriors have posited the positive or negative effects of blurred gender roles in a parental setting. Does treating one’s wife as equal emasculate the man? What are the effects of such a relationship on the children? Is there really a demonstrable difference between raising kids “traditionally” and non-traditionally? A new study out of Sweden may provide some answers to those questions.

Forty years ago, researchers at Sweden’s Örebro University began analyzing 16 couples that had decided to split the responsibilities of home, work, and parenting equally between husband and wife. A recent follow up study reveals that this setup provided benefits both for the familial household as well as for the men’s careers. Here’s a bit of info from Science Daily:

“Both partners worked part-time, spent the same amount of time at home and shared the household tasks equally.

‘The participating couples reveal that this has been good for their relationship and for the family as a whole,’ said [researcher] Margunn Bjørnholt.

‘On top of that the men did not feel that the change has had any negative effect on their work, even though they went against the flow and worked less hours than other men. On the contrary they thought it had been beneficial, because the responsibility they took at home was highly valued in the workplace.'”

Perhaps most interesting though, the researchers found that the sons of these couples, now parents themselves, did not follow in their parents’ footsteps. Bjørnholt describes the sons’ marriages as “neo-traditional,” meaning there’s more equality than you’d find on Mad Men, but the responsibilities of work and home are still split between woman and man.

Read more at Science Daily and at the Örebro University website

Photo credit: MNStudio / Shutterstock


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