Are caring fathers caring sons? Gender equality at home and help to ageing parents

Katharina Herlofson and Elisabeth Ugreninov

Herlofson, Katharina & Ugreninov, Elisabeth (2014). Er omsorgsfulle fedre omsorgsfulle sønner? Likestilling hjemme og hjelp til eldre foreldre. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning.  ISSN 0040-716X.  55(3), s 321- 346


Discussions about gender equality in the family have focused mainly on couples with small children, and debates about new roles of men have tended to be about men as fathers. In this article, we take a three-generational perspective and address division of household work and regular help to ageing parents, emphasising men’s role as sons. The assumption is that men’s involvement at home may contribute to the shaping of a new type of man, one who is not just involved with children and partner but also with parents. The analyses, which are based on data from the Norwegian Life Course, Generation and Gender Survey, do not support our assumption. Men who practise equal sharing of housework are less inclined to help parents than men used to a more traditional division of chores. Involvement in childcare is not correlated with helping patterns. For women, paid work is more important for caregiving than unpaid household work. The results suggest that time availability shapes care patterns. Help to parents is inversely related to engagement in other spheres – work at home for men, work outside home for women. In other words, care for parents seems related to traditional gender roles in the family.

Published Dec. 8, 2014 2:16 PM - Last modified June 21, 2018 1:45 PM