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Research projects

Between dream and reality. International and national studies of parenting and work

About this project

Project information

Project status




Research subject

As part of an international collaboration, this project studies how dual-earner couples negotiate and decide the division of paid and unpaid work and how these processes and outcomes differ across welfare regimes. By combining qualitative interviews and quantitative methods and data and by framing the outcome in an international comparative context, we contribute to research fields such as the household division of labour, gender inequality in the labour market and gender constructivism. We will interview parents-to-be a few months before the expected birth of their first child and then about eighteen months after the birth. The aim is to identify mechanisms that reproduce the gendered division of work in families by linking couples’ negotiations with the cultural setting and the institutional context. We will study: (1) how couples plan for the birth of a child and the resulting care work and how they, later on, modify and justify these decisions to themselves and others; (2) how parents in different welfare state regimes differ in this respect; (3) how decisions like these affect the careers of women and men; and (4) how they feel about the outcome. The international collaboration comprises researchers from Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. These countries represent three different welfare regimes and are examples of nations promoting a universal-breadwinner strategy (the United States), a caregiver-parity strategy (Germany and the Netherlands) and an earner–carer strategy (Sweden).

Research funding bodies

  • Swedish Research Council


  • Marie Evertsson, Stockholms universitet