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Saying and doing gender: intergenerational transmission of attitudes towards the sexual division of labour

Lucinda Platt and Javier Polavieja

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: The persistence of gender inequalities in the division of paid and unpaid work poses an important question for gender socialization research: what matters most for the intergenerational transmission of gender-role attitudes, parental own attitudes or parental behaviours? Recent explanations in cultural economics suggest that intentional attitudinal transmission is the main driver of cultural reproduction. In line with classical sex-role learning models, we contend, however, that what parents do is at least as important as what parents say for gender-role transmission. Using data for British children aged between 11 and 15 we estimate the independent influence of each of these two socialization channels on children’s attitudes towards the sexual division of labour (ASDL). We show that both parental attitudes and parental behaviours are crucial in the formation of children’s ASDL, and that parental influences are stronger when they operate through same-sex dyads. We also show that mothers’ time out of the labour force is a stronger predictor of children’s ASDL than either mothers’ or fathers’ own attitudes. Finally, analysis of a subset of the children followed into their early adult lives shows that ASDL formed in childhood have significant and lasting consequences for both adults’ gender attitudes and their behaviours.

Keywords: gender-role attitudes; children; parental socialization; behavioural sex-role modelling; British household panel survey; UKHLS (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J01 R14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-12-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-gen, nep-hme and nep-soc
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Published in European Sociological Review, 1, December, 2016, 32(6), pp. 820-834. ISSN: 0266-7215

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