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Navigating New Norms of Involved Fatherhood: Employment, Gender Attitudes, and Father Involvement in American Families
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In recent decades, gender roles have shifted toward greater overlap of men's and women's roles: women have entered the labor force in record numbers, while new norms of fatherhood emphasize men's involvement with their children in addition to their traditional role of financial provider. These "new fathers" are expected to be more equal partners in parenting, spending time nurturing children and performing both interactive and physical caregiving. However, men may face tension and conflict in attempting to fulfill their roles as both provider and involved father. The primary tension lies in the conflict of time and place: while the "new father" role requires spending time with children, the "provider" and "good worker" roles require a commitment to spending time on the job. How do men navigate these contradictory roles? To what extent does employment impact men's involvement with their children? Are men with more egalitarian attitudes trading off longer work hours for more time with their children? This dissertation examines these questions using two waves of the Child Development Supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID-CDS), which offer rich measures of father involvement, employment, and gender attitudes. Specifically, it examines the relationship between employment and father involvement, and whether and how gender attitudes moderate that relationship. Statistical methods include cross-sectional and fixed effects OLS regressions. Results indicate that nontraditional attitudes toward the father's role, "new father" attitudes, are associated with both engagement with children and responsibility for their care, particularly engagement in physical care. Attitudes toward public and private roles of women, on the other hand, are not related to father involvement. Results further suggest that the "provider"/"good worker" role prevails for men, much the way the nurturer role tends to prevail for women. Despite inelastic work hours, however, there may in fact be a cohort of "new fathers" whose behavior matches their attitudes, in that they are 1) more involved with their children than more traditional fathers, and 2) they are able to preserve time with children, likely by cutting back on leisure time or incorporating their children into their leisure time.