Work, marriage, and fatherhood

Had a really interesting conversation about that titular triumvirate with the director of NCSU’s Women’s Center and today I just came across this interesting research summary in the Atlantic.  Short version:  it’s good to me, i.e., be a married, working father who’s wife does not work full-time outside the home.  The details:

In the forthcoming paper in next month’s American Sociological Review, “A Reconsideration of the Fatherhood Premium: Marriage, Coresidence, Biology, and the Wages of Fathers,” Killewald shows that the wage gain does in fact exist, but that boost is not available to everyone.

Killewald found that married, biological fathers who live with their families are associated with a wage bonus of about four percent after they have kids. Unmarried fathers, fathers who do not live with their children, and stepfathers do not receive this premium.  [emphasis mine]
Wow.  Memo to the single men– put a ring on it.  So, what’ going on?
Killewald found that married fathers who lived with their biological children did not receive a statistically significant wage increase if their wives worked full-time. Men married to women who work less than full-time or who stay at home, however, are all but guaranteed the bonus. This may imply that diminished household responsibilities allow these men to fully devote themselves to their careers, making it possible to have a wife who does unpaid labor.
Well, the kids must be suffering from absent fathers who work to much– right?  Nope:
One might assume that an increased dedication to the workplace would mean that these fathers are spending less time at home, but research indicated that the men who had enjoyed the largest fatherhood premium also reported spending the most time with their kids. This is consistent with what we know about fathers who do not live with their children or non-biological fathers who are less engaged with the children they do live with: They spend less time together. While work and family often seem in conflict, men who fill the traditional role of provider do seem to be “having it all.”
Hey, look at me, I’ve got it all!  (Actually, I do, and I appreciate it very much.  But I still really miss my dog).

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to Work, marriage, and fatherhood

  1. Mike from Canada says:

    I wonder if part of this might be the factor of the boss/employer knowing the man is the sole breadwinner and this effecting the decision on what to give. When I applied for jobs I always made a point of telling them that I was married and had children and when my wife was home with the children. Even though it’s against the law for the employer to ask, it’s certainly not against the law for me to tell them and once it’s out there, they can’t ignore it.

    When applying for a job it’s a competition, and I knew that this had an effect on how people viewed me, that I was a responsible person and would be a responsible employee who worked hard to ensure he was able to provide for his family. As a matter of fact, I think that’s what I wrote that on my resume. Then I tried to back that up.

    In my experience as an employer it’s pretty much true, that married men with children tend to be better workers and more responsible. At least I’ve never found any of them getting drunk on the job, and the same can’t be said for single employee’s.

    I wonder if the same is true for jobs like programmers, especially game programmers where the employee’s are often young and they are required to work long hours and on the weekends, basically, work 24/7 until the job is done. I wonder if they are more likely to hire young unmarried men or women. Because although I liked my job, I tended to prefer to spend time at home with the family then at work. I never would have been good at a job that required me to work seven days a week, twelve to sixteen hours a day.

    • Steve Greene says:

      Good points. Single men are the least reliable elements in society. Letting a potential employer know that you are married with children may definitely help. Surely it does even in the law firms that expect you to work 80+ per week to make partner. Good question about the young techies writing code 24/7.

  2. itchy says:

    Please correct me if I’m missing something big here, but I scanned the publication, and I don’t see any explanation of why the causal arrow shouldn’t point in the other direction:

    Women married to fathers who make more money are less likely to need to work full-time.

    I’m not up on sociological jargon, but this “premium” doesn’t seem to be a sudden pay raise that that father receives upon having a child; it’s just a higher salary. (Yes, fathers with lower salaries are more likely to have spouses who work full-time.)

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