Research consistently shows a widening gap over time between increasingly egalitarian gender role attitudes and actual patterns of behaviour. According to this research, many men and women desire more equity in their division of earnings and care giving than they manage to realize. These discrepancies between actual and desired life courses have important social consequences. Yet, little is known about how norms change over the adult life course and how individuals create and maintain their gender identities in the early stages of family formation. The change in the division of work around the time of first birth is crucial for gender inequality in the household. It also has long-term consequences for gender inequalities in the labour market. 

cross-national cooperation

This cross-national cooperation brings together national experts of gender relations and division of labour from different European countries. The aim of the collaborators is to gather and analyze qualitative and quantitative longitudinal data to study how dual earner heterosexual couples negotiate and decide about the division of paid and unpaid work in the household, and how these processes and outcomes differ across countries and welfare regimes. After 2010 the transPARENT Network will be transformed into several cooperative projects which rely on their own sources of external funding. 

empirical approach

We combine currently available quantitative data on the division of paid and unpaid work, with a qualitative longitudinal approach, focusing on dual-earner couples who are having their first child. Quantitative analyses of gendered employment transitions are used to identify national patterns of earning and caring around fist birth, and to compare them cross-nationally, with specific focus on the role of national institutions. With the quantitative data, we can also verify and generalize the findings from the qualitative study as well as extend the analysis in place – over welfare regimes – and time. The qualitative data will show how individuals subjectively frame conditions and decisions in various contexts and indicate the degree to which different theories such as the doing gender approach, the relative resource/bargaining perspective and specialization strategies (translated into various arguments used in the negotiation process in the household) may influence different decisions in different institutional settings. The affiliates of this research network seek to explore how different institutional and cultural settings affect and frame couple’s decision processes about the division of work as they become first-time parents and what consequences these decisions have for their subsequent careers.  


Daniela Grunow, University of Amsterdam, and Marie Evertsson, SOFI, Stockholm University, introduced the transPARENT comparative framework at the EQUALSOC FAMNET meeting in Berlin in May 2009. At that point, the collaboration included the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. At the meeting, researchers from Italy and Spain decided to joining the Network. Italy and Spain are welfare states that traditionally rely on family and kinship networks rather than the state to provide care and security and as such welfare states, they make for an interesting comparison to the conservative (Germany and the Netherlands) and the social-democratic (Sweden) welfare state regimes.

The foundation for the cross-national collaboration in the transPARENT framework was laid in Germany in 2005 (link). Today qualitative data from two waves of interviews1 are compiled. Comparable qualitative data also exist for the Netherlands (NKPS mini panel, Wiesmann, see Sweden entered the project in 2009 and data from the first round of interviews have now been collected. The follow up interviews take place starting in the fall of 2010.

In 2009-10 the Spanish and Italian projects received funding and in April 2010 the first transPARENT workshop was held. The workshop served 3 main goals:

• To start up a cross-national collaboration and sketch a work-plan.

•  Discuss the guidelines used for the qualitative interviews in order to minimize discrepancies and ensure comparability between countries.

• Create an inventory of available longitudinal and cross-sectional data for all countries included.

The first wave of interviews with nascent parents in Italy and Spain are made in summer/autumn 2010.

In June 2010 Daniela Grunow was nominated for an ERC starting grant for the research project “Transition to parenthood: International and national studies of norms and gender division of work at the life course transition to parenthood (APPARENT).” From January 2011 to December 2015, directed by Daniela Grunow and based on continuing collaboration with the partners from the transPARENT Network, the longitudinal and multi-method approach will be developed further. The APPARENT project will collect data on several post-socialist countries, such as Poland and the Czech Republic, following the rigorous design of the German qualitative pilot study.  

Marie Evertsson is the project leader of the Swedish Research team. This group consists of Katarina Boye, Stockholm University, together with Jenny Ahlberg and Christine Roman, Örebro University. The project “Between dream and reality. International and national studies of parenting and work from a gender perspective” is financed through a three year grant from the Swedish Research Council (Dnr: VR 2008-1816).

The Spanish project is a collaboration between seven universities and research institutions and is based in four large cities; Barcelona, Madrid, Pamplona and Sevilla. The research group consists of María José González, Teresa Jurado-Guerrero, Paco Abril, Carmen Botía, Teresa Castro, Marta Domínguez, Irene Lapuerta, Teresa Martín, Jordi Monferrer, Alfons Romero, Marta Seiz and Sílvia Claveria. The first project “Co-responsibility before and after the birth of the first child in Spain” is a three-year study financed by the Spanish Women’s Institute (43/09) and the second one “Employment and Family Decisions in the transition to the first child in Europe” is financed through a three-year grant from the Ministry of Science and Innovation (CSO2010-17811).

The Italian research group is based at the University of Turin, Department of Social Sciences. Members are Sonia Bertolini, Manuela Naldini, Paola Torrioni, Cristina Solera and Rosy Musumeci. The Italian research team received an 18 months grant from CRT (Cassa Risparmio Torino) Foundation for a Master of Excellence on the project “Transition to Parenthood. Pregnancy, Motherhood and Services. The study of case of Turin”.

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