Parental Union Dissolution and the Gender Revolution
As men’s contributions to household work began to rise across Europe and North America, so did parental union dissolution. Because children’s residency with their mothers has been nearly universal for decades, in all couples in which fathers share at least some of the care work, a union dissolution slows societal increases in gender equality. A new family form—children’s 50/50 residency with both their parents—has begun to alter the consequences of union dissolution. As it requires the father to take on all care for half of the time—something few partnered fathers do—it may even push parents into more egalitarian sharing. We studied care work through Swedish administrative data on parents’ leave from work to care for a sick child. We created a panel of leave-sharing for children aged 2–11 and used fixed-effects models to estimate the within-couple effect of dissolution on sick-child leave. The results show that in the parental unions dissolving today, fathers’ share of sick-child leave is higher in the years following the dissolution than it was in the years in which the union was still intact. Whereas union dissolutions slowed the gender revolution for decades in Sweden, they now accelerate it.