Men’s participation in unpaid care - A review of the literature
Men - in a variety of ways and in a variety of situations - are involved in providing unpaid care. Some men undertake a considerable amount of care, others relatively little. However, on average, men spend significantly less time in unpaid care than do women. Conversely, on average, men spend significantly more time on paid work than women.
This report outlines the results of a review of recent literature about the impacts of men's current levels of participation in unpaid care, the barriers impeding greater participation by men in unpaid care and the range of supports that may assist men to become more involved in care.
Much of the paper discusses men as carers of their children, rather than as carers of other family members or friends. This is because the bulk of the literature examining men as carers is focused on care as parents. The literature on the care of elderly people, the disabled or those in poor health focuses almost entirely on female carers, with the literature specifically on men providing care to other family members or friends, including for their spouses and parents, being significantly more limited. What research there is, is often either clinically based or comprised of smaller qualitative studies that focus on more micro-level issues, such as the specific care tasks that men undertake or the ways the division of care is negotiated between male and female siblings. As such, while this paper discusses literature that is relevant to all kinds of care carried out by men and includes sections specifically on issues for men as non-parental carers, in many areas, the evidence available is solely based on parenting. This paper reflects that in the focus and weighting of its discussion.
As an introduction and to provide context to this paper, this section very briefly considers language and culture as two of the factors that shape how we think about care. We do not specifically address how biology might affect the overall division of labour between women and men. However, a number of studies mention biology-based influences on some caring roles, and where appropriate, we include comments on these. In particular, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are identified as influencing the gender division of labour in the early months of a child's life, with this discussed in a later section.
This introductory section also outlines the amounts and kinds of care that men and women are involved in, as well as highlighting the related issues of the outsourcing of care and the participation of men in paid care.
Section 2 of the paper lays out some of the consequences of the current level of care by men, with much of the evidence in this area presented within a framework of potential impacts of men increasing their levels of care. This avoids the use of a deficit model or the attribution of blame.
Section 3 of the paper describes a series of barriers that impede men from taking a greater role in unpaid care. While we work through a list of barriers, we are aware that not all of them are of equal importance. This discussion is then followed by a fourth section that describes some of the factors that research suggests may support men's greater participation in care. The paper concludes with some comments about the implications of these findings in the New Zealand context, as well as suggesting areas for further research.
1.1 Language frames the debate
In undertaking this analysis, we are very aware that debates around gender have often critiqued the language used in the discussions. Language, including our own in this paper, frames debates in a certain way. Language not only reflects ideas and social norms but also helps shape them and is thus important in shifting attitudes and behaviours. For example, in early feminist analysis, 'history' was seen as focusing on men's lives and so concepts of 'her-story' evolved (for example, Sochen, 1974). This view that language matters continues. For example, Burnier (2006:861), when studying performance reports in workplaces, notes that:
[a]t the analytic level of the sentence, the figurative language, metaphors, and bridging assumptions privilege experiences and actions that are socially constructed as male and rely on traditional gender stereotypes about work, family, and government service use.
Much attention has been given to the elimination of gender-specific language that was considered biased against women. Hence, there were objections to the use of 'he' when it could mean 'he or she', and words such as 'chairman', 'fireman' and 'actress' were criticised for being gendered. Efforts to eliminate such language could be considered as an attempt to remove a bias in the language and, through this, help reduce barriers to women moving into these traditionally male roles.
Equally, language can also help frame agendas about male roles in families, including shaping public and official attitudes (Fairclough, 1995; Cobb and Ross, 1997; Considine, 2005; Curran, 2006). Biases can be introduced or reinforced through the use of particular language. This suggests some care about the use of a range of family-related terms such as 'sole parent family' (when there is another parent); 'primary caregiver' (which can easily be then seen as a sole caregiver); 'absent parent' (who can be very actively involved); 'abuser' and 'victim' (which denies the possibility of mutual abuse) and explicitly gendered terms (such as 'deadbeat dad').
It is not difficult to find examples where inaccurate, and often inappropriate, language is used in relation to fathers. Family types commonly known as 'single parent', 'mother only', 'lone mother', 'sole father' or, more in a US context, 'fatherless' are focal points in policy discussions, political debates, social science research and everyday conversation (Hill and Callister, 2006). Underlying these terms and the images they convey is the assumption, explicitly recognised or not, that children have but one reliable biological parent. In truth, most such children have not just one, but two living biological parents. One is the parent who lives with the children. The second parent lives in another household. Some children see only the parent they live with, but some see both. Researchers and policy-makers rarely see the second parent and tend to label them absent, non-resident or non-custodial even though these terms can be misleading when children spend time with both parents.
There has also been some historical debate about how to 'name' fathers who fulfil non-traditional roles, particularly where the father is the main caregiver. The term 'primary caregiver' has been used at times. At other times, particularly within the popular media, but also within academic literature, terms such as 'househusband' or 'role reversal family' have been used when describing fathers as full-time caregivers. However, Nussbaum (1985), in an American study, argued that 'househusband' was inappropriate, in that it defines a person by the location of his work and as an attachment to his wife. At the same time, Nussbaum suggested that there were difficulties in not having an occupational label for men who are primary caregivers. In his own study, Nussbaum used the term 'primary caretaker'. Pruett, also looking at American families, did not like the term 'role reversal', as he felt that this type of change represents an extremely complex collage of issues of identity, creativity and parental satisfaction for both men and women (Pruett, 1987). Harper (1980), in a study of Australian families, similarly rejected the term 'role reversal' for two reasons. Firstly, according to Harper, there is seldom a strict reversal of 'traditional' sex roles, and secondly, people in this family situation see the very existence of sex roles as questionable in the first place. She argued that these families, in general, saw the roles themselves as needing to be abandoned, rather than there being simply an exchange of who fills them (Harper, 1980). The difficulty in developing appropriate language in the face of social change was illustrated by a media article where the author, to avoid using the lengthy term 'male primary caregiver', used the initials MPC throughout the article (The Listener, 1993).
Where possible, we have tried to take care in the use of our own language, but at times, we are simply repeating terms used by other researchers.
Terms used to describe care in this paper
In this paper, we use the terms 'care', 'unpaid care' and 'care work' to describe the unpaid caring that is typically undertaken in the family setting or provided on an uncompensated basis to extended family and friends. While it would be simpler to use a single term to describe this, the literature uses all three terms, and thus we also refer to all three when reporting the results of the review.
When the discussion distinguishes between paid care (such as that provided by nurses or early childhood workers) and unpaid care, we use the terms 'unpaid care work' and 'paid care work'. In contrast, 'unpaid work' is a broader term that includes both care and other unpaid domestic tasks such as housework.
1.2 The role of culture
In undertaking this analysis, it is clear that culture is a significant overarching factor that influences how men (and women) participate in both unpaid care and paid work (and indeed, in all aspects of life). Men and women are immersed in cultural milieux that shape their attitudes and beliefs and their perceptions of both what is possible and what is appropriate. It is within their particular cultural settings that men and women make 'choices' about how to balance care responsibilities with paid work and other aspects in life
Isolating the impact of culture is extremely complex and beyond the scope of this analysis. However, it is essential that the role of culture in shaping and reinforcing the gendered divisions of care and choices about who does such care is kept in mind when considering the issue of supporting men to increase participation in care.
There are significant problems with separating the effects of culture and practice. One example is apparent in the use of flexible work arrangements. In a broader culture (and workplace culture) that prioritises men as earners and women as carers, men will be less likely than women to take up gender-neutral family-friendly working options available to them. Ideologies of the ideal worker as one who is unencumbered by care responsibilities reinforce this pattern of uptake of flexible work and augment the perception that men who use such arrangements are less committed to their work. Women, by contrast, are defined more as carers, and thus flexible work arrangements are more accessible to, and used by, them in greater proportions. While women may benefit from the use of such arrangements, they also disproportionately bear the costs of using such arrangements. This, in turn, serves to reinforce men's and women's different cultural roles, both in the cultures of individual workplaces and more broadly.
The complexity and reinforcing nature of culture makes discussion of the specific impacts of men's participation in care difficult to ascertain; this must be kept in mind when interpreting the discussion in this paper. The role of culture as a barrier to men's participation in care is also further considered below.
1.3 Men and care: the current picture
Measuring overall time: men's care and total work
Participation in unpaid care and in the paid labour force are mutually interdependent for both men and women, with the two facets of work impacting on each other in a number of ways (a more detailed discussion of this is below). While a number of researchers (for example, Bianchi, Milkie, Sayer and Robinson, 2000; Bittman, England, Sayer, Folbre and Matheson et al, 2003; Craig, 2007) show that paid work and care for children is not a zero-sum proposition, it is clear that paid work limits the time available to undertake unpaid care; conversely, undertaking care limits the time available for paid work. As such, on one side of the ledger are the factors that impact on time spent in unpaid care. These factors, such as the division of care between spouses, in turn have a significant impact on the ability of women and men to engage in paid work. On the other side, factors that impact on how paid work is carried out, such as working hours and workplace cultures, have a significant flow-on effect to how much care men and women can undertake.
The discussion in this section focuses on the first side of the ledger, namely that the current division of care undertaken by men and women has significant implications for women's labour force participation, in particular. The other side of the ledger, namely the factors that affect how work is carried out, is considered in Section 3 on barriers that impede men's ability to increase their participation in unpaid care.
How many men are engaged in caring for others?
Data from the 2006 New Zealand Census show that around a quarter of men reported caring for a child in their own household, while 10 per cent reported providing care for a child outside their household. Around 5 per cent of men are providing care to someone who is ill or has a disability in their own household, with similar numbers providing care of this kind to someone outside their household. However, these data give no idea of how much time is devoted to providing such care.
|Male (15 and over)||Female (15 and over)|
|Looking after a child who is a member of own household||24.5%||372,858||32.0%||525,057|
|Looking after a member of own household who is ill or has a disability||5.7%||86,430||8.2%||134,799|
|Looking after a child who does not live in own household||10.2%||155,106||18.6%||305,037|
|Helping someone who is ill or has a disability who does not live in own household||5.8%||88,236||10.4%||170,472|
Source: 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings, Statistics NZ.
Time spent in care
While data from the 2006 Census show that fewer men than women are engaged in providing care to others, data from the 1999 time use survey show that those men who are providing care are spending less time doing so than women who are providing care.
|Caregiving for household members||75||128|
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2000).
Data from the time use survey also show differences by age and ethnicity in the amount of care undertaken. Figure 1 shows that the 25-44 age group, the peak time of child-bearing and child-rearing, is the stage in the life-cycle when the most time is spent in caring for others, with this the case for both men and women. The age data also show that, from a peak in the 25-34 age group, women's time caring goes down, while the male peak is at 35-44. This may reflect that men spend more time caring for older children than they do for younger ones, as well as the higher age for men when first children are born. Another related factor is that children are more likely to live with separated fathers as they move into their teenage years (Davey, 1999). Further, the graph shows that there is broad parity between the genders in time spent caring for others following the child-bearing and rearing years. These data suggest that looking at caring across a life-cycle and not just cross-sectionally is important.
Figure 1: Time spent in care by age and gender
Average hours per day spent on caring for household members (primary activity) by sex and age.
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2001)
Figure 2 shows that Māori women spent more time in caregiving tasks than non-Māori women, particularly with regard to physical care. Māori men spent slightly more time in physical care and travel associated with care, but slightly less time playing with children.
Figure 2: Time spent in care by age, gender and ethnicity
Average minutes per day spent on caregiving tasks in the household (primary activity) by sex and ethnicity - adjusted for age.
Source: Statistics New Zealand (2001)
However, differences by ethnicity should be treated with caution. While the international literature indicates that variables such as length of parental leave and time spent in care differ by ethnicity (for example, Smeaton, 2006), ethnicity is conflated with other variables such as income and occupation, as well as factors as broad as whether a respondent is a recent immigrant who may be bringing with them attitudes of the source country. As such, it is extremely difficult to unpick the true causality of relationships where ethnicity is correlated with patterns of care. This is exacerbated for the division of unpaid care, as decisions about who undertakes this work are made by couples, rather than by individuals. For example, as around 50 per cent of Māori have non-Māori partners (Callister, 2004a), it is difficult to get a true sense of the degree to which participation in unpaid care varies by ethnicity. Because of these difficulties, this paper does not consider in detail the impact of ethnicity on the division of care.
Across the total population, broad time use data from New Zealand show that men's and women's total hours of work are very similar, but as in other industrialised countries, men undertake more paid work and women more unpaid work (Gershuny, 2000; Statistics New Zealand, 2000; Burda, Hamermesh and Weil, 2007). The sum of market and household work by men and women tends to be equal at a point in time. However, the total amount of work can change over time, and the total amount of work differs across countries.
Not surprisingly, New Zealand data show some trade-offs between paid and unpaid work by both men and women. For example, women who work full-time undertake, on average, less unpaid work than those working part-time, while employed women undertake less unpaid work overall than those not in paid work. When the New Zealand sample is restricted to partnered men and women with a child under 5, Stevens (2002) has demonstrated that total hours of work are higher for parents of young children than for men and women without children. Steven's data also show that the ratio of total hours of women's to men's work was 0.96; that is, on average, partnered men with a child under 5 work longer total (paid and unpaid) hours than partnered women. The OECD (2004) has also produced a ratio of total paid and unpaid time of women to men for couple families with a child under 6 years of age. This ratio again shows that, on average, men in New Zealand work longer total hours than women. The New Zealand ratio was 0.7, compared with ratios of 1.2 in Portugal and 1.0 in Switzerland., These broad level data suggest that, if New Zealand fathers continue to work long hours of paid work, but are also now expected to be 'good fathers', both in terms of providing 'quality' and 'quantity' time for their children, then total hours of work are likely to be high. The long-term time use data show that paternal care has been growing in a range of industrialised countries (for example, Bianchi, 2000; Gershuny, 2000; Yeung, Sandberg, Davis-Kean and Hofferth, 2001).
However, these type of data are for all partnered men and women, not just couples where both are employed. Thus they include 'traditional' couples where the father works full-time and the mother stays at home. International time use data restricted to couples where both partners work full-time suggest that there is a significant double burden for women in some countries but not in others. Table 3 shows a selection of ratios of women's to men's total work time (paid and unpaid) in couple households with a child under 5 years where both partners work full-time. New Zealand is not included in these data. The total work time for couples in Sweden is nearly equal. In the other countries shown, women working full-time have a higher total workload than men. When the data are restricted to childcare time, then the ratios are strongly tipped towards women undertaking a much higher proportion of the childcare, especially in Italy.
|Ratio of total work time
(paid and unpaid)
|Ratio of mothers' to fathers' childcare time|
Source: OECD (2001).
The more narrow measure of childcare indicates that measuring unpaid work as a whole conflates activities such as shopping, housecleaning and childcare, although it is likely that some activities are linked. This includes that some of these activities can be undertaken together (for example, shopping while caring for children).
Examination of the measures used in the various time use surveys also highlights the significant methodological difficulties associated with comparing New Zealand's time use data with those of other countries. Some studies collect data on time spent in unpaid work, some focus on 'care' and still others separate out the kinds of care tasks undertaken. Much of the international time use data have been standardised through the Luxembourg Income Survey, but as New Zealand does not make available data for this purpose, international comparisons using identical measures can not be made.
Men not in the labour force looking after children
Although a long-term view of the 'family' shows that the model of a full-time mother at home looking after children was not the norm for much of history, it was the dominant child-rearing pattern in much of the 20th century (Coontz, 2005). Amongst some commentators, there was some expectation that, in a move to gender equity, we would see more fathers full-time looking after children. As shown in Figure 3, New Zealand Household Labour Force data show that the number of men who are not in the labour force and state that their main activity is looking after children has increased from just over 6,000, reached a peak of around 18,000 in the early 2000s and, in June 2008, was around 14,000. It is not clear what drove the growth and then the subsequent flattening of the numbers.
Figure 3: Men not in the labour force, looking after children
Source: Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS).
Data table for Figure 3
The total number of men not in the labour force increased over this period, so as a percentage of men not in the labour force, men looking after children has increased only from 2.6 per cent 1986 to reach a peak of just under 5 per cent in the early 2000s before slipping back to 3.6 per cent by June 2008.
As a comparison, the number of women not in the labour force looking after children full-time at home rose from 167,000 in March 1986 to reach a peak of 180,000 by the late 1980s, before dropping back to 139,000 by September 2008. In March 1986, for every male not in the labour force looking after children, there were 27 females, but by 2008, this had declined to 10 females to each male.
Census data indicate that the model of a father who is full-time at home and a mother who is in paid work has increased but is not a significant family type. In 1986, for couples with a child under 5, 0.9 per cent of couples had this arrangement. By 2001, this had increased to 3.4 per cent. At the same time, the model of the full-time mother at home decreased from 59 per cent to reach 38 per cent in 2001. The largest change in family and work arrangement was an increase in dual job couples. As shown in Figure 4, the Household Labour Force data indicate the strong growth in dual job couples since 1986 through to June 2008.
Figure 4: Dual job couples 1986-2008, by number of children
Source: Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS).
Data table for Figure 4
Equally there has only been a small rise in sole fathers not in paid work. Again, for couples with a child under 5, 3.5 per cent of sole parents fitted this model, rising to 4.6 per cent by 2001.
The HLFS and Census data together indicate that, despite the growth in non-employment of prime-aged men and the growth of men looking after children, overall, fewer men than might have been expected have left the labour force to become full-time caregivers. There are a number of possible reasons why this could be so:
- A high proportion of men who are not in paid work may not be fathers.
- Many fathers who are not in paid work are not living with their children.
- Fathers in two parent families who are out of work may tend to be with partners who are also out of work and so gender roles in the home are not challenged.
- Many of the fathers who are now seen spending more time with their children are unemployed and actively looking for work, working part-time or working full-time and caring for their children in out of work hours.
Until research is carried out in this area it will not be possible to actually determine the reasons.
1.4 Perspectives on men as parents
Changes in the amount of time spent caring
Over the past decades, there have been some major shifts in the time men and women spend doing domestic labour (Bianchi et al, 2000). Research in the US shows that, between 1965 and 2003, the average amount of time married employed fathers spent on unpaid domestic work increased by nearly 6 hours per week (Hook, 2006), while the time women spent on such work declined. As such, in many countries, including the US, the observed increase in men's share of domestic tasks over the past 40 years has resulted in part from women's reduction in their own housework (Bianchi et al, 2000.)
As noted, these analyses tend to group care activities with housework and other forms of unpaid work. When time caring for children is isolated from these other activities, it is apparent that, while there is a trend towards fathers spending more time with children, mothers are also doing more, so the average difference between men's and women's time caring for children is barely affected (Baxter, 2002.) Women still spend 2-3 times as much time caring for children as men (Craig, 2006).
The long-term time use data show that paternal care has been growing in a range of industrialised countries (for example, Bianchi, 2000; Gershuny, 2000; Yeung et al, 2001). However, Gregory and Milner (2007) argue that the increases in time fathers spend with children are not constant across fathers, and while overall paternal involvement appears to be increasing, behaviour is polarised between fathers who are spending more time caring for their children and those who, because of divorce and separation, are reducing contact.
Research suggests that women may be less willing to reduce their time with children than their time doing other household tasks (Craig, 2006). In the US, Bianchi et al (2000) note that, while, in the past, the time that non-employed mothers spent with children was reduced by the demands of unpaid family work and domestic chores, employed mothers now try to find new ways to maximise time with children. For example, in all the years studied, employed mothers undertook less housework than non-employed mothers, although total hours of housework were also declining among both groups. Similarly, using a large sample from the Australian Bureau of Statistics time use survey, Craig (2007) found that employed mothers spent less time than other mothers in housework, child-free leisure and personal care, as well as rescheduling activities to earlier or later in the day to accommodate time with children.
Differences in parenting tasks between men and women
In addition to examining the time men and women spend in care work, research suggests that it is also important to examine the kind of care men and women provide. Craig (2006) notes that a number of studies have shown that women spend a greater proportion of the total care time in physical care activities than men, with fathers more likely to engage in play, talking, educational and recreational activities. Similarly, Bittman, Hoffman and Thompson (2004) found that fathers spend the bulk of their childcare time engaging in the more 'valuable' activities of talking, playing and reading, while mothers spent proportionately more time performing physical care tasks. Fathers are also engaged in activities that are more time-flexible, while women undertake the aspects of care that are more time-critical and time-constraining, with this having consequences for gender equity and women's labour force participation (Craig, 2006).
Typologies of care by fathers
Increasingly, the literature is going beyond broad examinations of unpaid work, and even childcare, to looking at how specific activities are undertaken by men and women and under what circumstances the amount of work changes. This includes even defining what is 'care'.
The issue of what is care by fathers has been explored by Lamb (1987), who outlined three groupings for a father's involvement. Interaction refers to the father's direct contact with his child through care-taking and shared activities. Availability is a related concept that concerns the father's potential availability for interaction, by virtue of being present or accessible to the child whether or not direct interaction is occurring. Responsibility refers to the role the father takes in ascertaining that the child is taken care of and arranging for resources to be available for babysitters, choosing schools, making appointments with the doctor and seeing that the child is taken to them, determining when the child needs new clothes and so on.
Broad concepts of 'quality' versus 'quantity' time are now also being discussed in the literature, adding further complexity to the measures of care. This idea has also been raised by Bianchi et al (2000), who suggested that, in the past, children did not have the same level of interaction with parents, for example, often not being actively monitored.
A second typology of care is provided in Brandth and Kvande (2003), who describe two types of caring by fathers in relation to parental leave. One is 'home alone' and the other is 'home but not alone'. The 'home but not alone' fathers were involved in caring for their children but were doing so alongside their partner. Often these fathers were in support roles in relation to the mother's care and were not taking full responsibility for the care of the child. Brandth and Kvande suggest that, for men, it is 'quantity' time, on their own, that often mattered in terms of fathers developing close relationships with the child and in understanding their needs. In addition, when fathers spent long periods alone with the child, then this was no longer just 'fun' time (perhaps a component of quality time) but involved a range of care and non-care activities including other forms of domestic work.
Adding even further complexity to defining and measuring care by fathers, Christiansen and Palkovitz (2001) argue that 'providing' is a form of paternal involvement not readily acknowledged in the modern fatherhood literature. They suggest that providing is often overlooked because it is taken for granted, it can hold negative connotations (for example, having the control over family finances) and can be inadequately conceptualised. They suggest, as an example, that paying for a music lesson can be as important 'caring' as actually taking the child to the lesson.
O'Brien (2004) also notes that financial provision is rarely conceptualised as a form of care (with the exception perhaps being separated fathers who pay child support). She argues that:
...the manner in which parents collectively provide material support, for instance, the extent to which it is organised in a way that promotes children's emotional security and wellbeing, should be included in a 'positive care package' (Ibid:12).
Furthermore, she asks:
Engaged, sensitive care from both parents may be optimal, but at what point does a reduction in the time available, for example, to listen and spend time with children, outweigh the financial advantage gained through hours spent in employment? (Ibid).
Similarly, Bianchi, Robinson, and Milkie (2006:12), commenting on fatherhood in the United States, noted that men "also see their paid work as a powerful way to become more involved with their children. Paid work hours 'count' as good parenting for them". They argue that:
...this pushes men to work more, not fewer, hours outside the home when they first become fathers. To the extent that providing is the essence of good parenting for men, and to the extent this has not changed as the 'ideal' for them, it is very difficult to cut back on one's role as a provider and still be a 'good father' (Ibid:13).
In line with this, Sarkadi, Kristiansson, Oberklaid and Bremberg (2008) suggest that the ideal father model has gone through a number of changes over time. They argue that an early ideal was father as moral teacher and disciplinarian, then a breadwinner, followed by a gender-role model and 'buddy', finally moving to a model of a nurturing co-parenting parent. These changes in model are set against a growth in the diversity of family types, including sole father and sole mother households, same-sex families, 'blended' families with one or more non-biological parent, as well as adoptee families and families where children have been conceived using donated sperm. Some of these family types create structural challenges to the 'nurturing, co-parenting parent' model.
Research has also indicated that changes in what it means to be a good father can be problematic for men. O'Brien (2004:25) argues that the current model of the 'good father' means that:
...earning is not automatically construed as caring, which can cause confusion and frustration for men, particularly those with a cultural tradition of the breadwinner father. Fathers who are constrained by economic considerations or custom and practice to work long weekly hours can feel disappointed in missing out on time with their children and not having space for a satisfying family or personal life.
In addition, while overall there may be changing societal ideals, within any society, there will be individuals and families who continue to favour one model over another. For example, a number of studies have indicated that younger generations of people have tended to be early adopters of the gender equity model as an ideal (Nickel and Kcher, 1987a; Sandqvist, 1987; Shelton, 1992; Gendall and Russell, 1995), but a range of factors influence which model is supported, including religious beliefs.
Men as secondary parents
Like the typology used by Brandth and Kvande (2003) described above, a number of researchers have argued that, when men are involved in the care of children, they tend to do so in a secondary role. The UK Equal Opportunities Commission (2003) found that most fathers play a support role within the family, often having minimal involvement with their children during the week but putting weekends aside for family life. As such, fathers played a secondary role rather than sharing the responsibilities of parenting with their partners. Similarly, Gregory and Milner (2007), citing an evaluation of French parental leave policy, found that fathers participated in childcare during leave but only took a support role ('helping the mother'), and this did not continue after resuming work. Craig (2006) argued that men's time with children is most often mediated by the presence of the mothers. She found that more than 90 per cent of the time fathers are with their children, the mother is there too, with this having implications for the ability of men to form and maintain independent bonds with their children. This also has consequences for the quality of father-child interactions following marital dissolution.
A New Zealand study by Mitchell and Chapman (2006) found that men's role as a secondary parent was perpetuated by service providers assisting families before and after the birth of a child. While men in their study were committed to being a partner in the parenting relationship, other parties expected that men's main role was that of a support person to the mother rather than as a parent in their own right. More discussion on the roles of service providers is below.
1.5 Men as non-parental carers
One of the most consistent findings across the literature is that men provide significantly less care than women. However, a number of authors argue that narrow definitions of caregiving activities tend to underestimate men's contributions to caregiving (Dentinger and Clarkberg, 2002; Davey, 2006). This is particularly the case with regard to the participation of men in care for individuals other than their children.
Davey (2006) contends that "the gender bias in research favours the types of support more traditionally offered by women, which heightens their apparent dominance as caregivers and minimises the support provided by sons and male relatives" (Davey, 2006:38). Evidence from the General Household Survey in the US suggests that substantially more men were involved in family caring than previously estimated and that a significant number were involved in providing intensive care for many hours per week (Milne and Hatzidimitriadou, 2003).
Men caring for their spouses
While women form the majority of carers, the numbers of men caring more than 20 hours a week is significant, particularly among older age groups (Renwick, 2008; Maher and Green, 2002; Work and Pensions Committee, 2008). Most of these are men caring for their spouses.
Research suggests that men who are caring for someone other than a child are more likely to be caring for their spouse than any other person. This is because men are less likely to care for other groups of vulnerable adults and because a larger proportion of older men than women are still married (while women are more likely to be widowed due to shorter life expectancies for men) (Milne and Hatzidimitriadou, 2003). Because, on average, men die younger and marry younger women, older men are therefore more likely to be still living with their spouse who may need care, than are women of the same age (Himmelweit and Land, 2007). Increasing longevity of men also means spouses are living together for longer in old age, caring for each other in their own household (Ibid).
In her report on older people within families, Davey (2006) shows that older men above the age of 75 are more likely than women to be caring for an ill or disabled person in their own household, indicating that "older men play a comparable or even larger part in caring for ill or disabled people within their own households. These are likely to be their wives or partners" (p21). Similarly, the Work and Pensions Committee in the UK (2008) note that, amongst the over 75 age group, men are more likely than women to be carers, and the person receiving care is predominantly a spouse or partner living in the same household. Campbell and Carroll (2007) also note that men provide between 30-50 per cent of all spousal care.
Men who are caring for their elderly spouse faced particular challenges, particularly around having to learn and undertake daily tasks that previously their wives would have done (Calasanti and Bowen, 2006). In addition, because, on average, men who become spouse carers do so at a greater age than their female counterparts and tend to care for longer periods as their wives are likely to be younger, they provide this care while they themselves are becoming more frail (Milne and Hatzidimitriadou, 2003).
As such, the caring that men (and women) undertake later in life is significantly different from the care provided by parents for their children. Hancock and Jarvis (1994) argue that the recipient of care, the duration of care and the objective burden of care all differ significantly from care earlier in the life course. In addition, factors such as the health problems of the person providing care and the presence of dementia mean that the experience may be more onerous and physically demanding than care provided earlier in life (Milne and Hatzidimitriadou, 2003). Other research suggests, however, that older husbands derive considerable social esteem from their caregiving activities, with this coming from several sources such as the admiration of other family members and wider society (Ribeiro, Paul and Nogueira, 2007).
Men caring for their parents and other relatives
Examining the participation of men in care for the elderly, Houde contends that "men have not been studied adequately because of limitations in sampling design, with too few men in many caregiving samples. Sons, in particular, have been inadequately sampled". (Houde, 2002:634). However, while research suggests that men may be more likely to care for their spouses as they age than vice versa, there remains a significant gap between men and women in the care of parents by adult children (Campbell and Carroll, 2007).
Gerstel and Gallagher (2001) note that the presence of female siblings impacts on the likelihood of men providing care to parents, with men with sisters relying on them as primary caregivers and providing only limited sporadic care themselves. Their research also suggested that men in brother-only sibling sets draw on the labour of their wives to care for elderly parents, and as such, it is the characteristics of men's families (rather than the characteristics of other factors, such as jobs) that affect the time men spent providing care. In their study of 94 couples, men whose wives spent more time in care were also more likely to spend more time in care themselves, with this being a significant predictor of both time spent in care and in particular caring tasks. As such, when wives spent more time helping their parents, men spent significantly more time helping their parents-in-law as well, and when wives spent more time helping their adult children, men also spent significantly more time helping their adult children.
A variety of studies have found that gender is a considerable factor shaping the kinds of care tasks that men undertake in the care of their parents. Campbell and Martin-Matthews (2003) found that strong gender norms discouraged sons from generally performing traditionally female tasks, even when daughters were not available. They argue that:
...family members, including older parents, adopt cultural assumptions about what constitutes gender-appropriate behaviour, such as perceiving women as the "nurturers" in families and men as peripheral to the nurturer role. The gendered nature of these socio-cultural assumptions and expectations might also help to explain sons' reduced involvement in certain types of assistance, particularly personal care (Ibid:350).
As such, men's involvement in providing care for a parent was influenced not just by the gendered context of caregiving in society, but also by the gendered nature of individual caregiving tasks, such as undertaking home repair and yard work rather than personal care such as bathing (Ibid).
Hequembourg and Brallier (2005) similarly found that gender influenced the negotiation of caregiving tasks by brother and sister pairs. They classified men into 'helper brothers' and 'co-provider brothers' but found that even the co-providers relied on their sisters to coordinate the care of their parents.
Davey and Keeling's (2004) study of city council employees caring for elderly relatives showed an interesting pattern with regard to the gender of the carer and the care recipient, as shown in Table 4, with participants in their research providing care almost solely to relatives of the same gender. They also found that there were clear differences between the strategies men and women used to combine work and care. Women were more likely to use annual leave, sick leave and leave without pay than men, while men were more likely to take time off in lieu or use flexitime (Ibid).
|Other family member||2||3|
Source: Davey and Keeling (2004).
While the literature suggests that the majority of men caring for relatives other than their own child are caring for their spouses, there are also a group of men caring for children, most likely their grandchildren. Table 5, from the 2006 Census, shows that one in ten men between the ages of 65 and 74 are providing care for a child in another household, while 5 per cent provide care for a child in their own household.
|Age (years)||Same household||Another household|
|Looking after a child||65-74||5.4||10.4|
|Looking after an ill or disabled person||65-74||4.8||6.7|
Source: 2006 Census of Population and Dwellings, Statistics NZ.
1.6 Outsourcing and paid care
Care outside of the home
Historically, most households grew their own food, made their clothes, fashioned tools and cared for dependents, both young and old. However, changes in technology and the demise of the extended family, along with a general trend towards specialisation of work, mean that, in industrialised countries, most of these goods and services have been sourced outside the household. This includes much of the education of children. However, the extent of the outsourcing of care can vary between countries.
Time use data suggest that the amount of paid and unpaid work, including childcare, varies between countries. As an example, Freeman and Schettkat (2001) compared the total working hours (paid and unpaid) of women from Europe and the United States and showed that these are quite similar. However, their time series showed a major growth in women's employment in the United States, with American women being at the high end internationally in terms of paid working hours. In contrast, in countries such as Germany, a considerable amount of women's working time is spent in unpaid work. The authors suggested various reasons for this, but a main reason is that unpaid work such as food preparation, childcare and cleaning houses - work that is labour-intensive and cannot be replaced by technology - tends to be marketised or outsourced in the United States.
If gender equality in the workplace and, by inference, equality in unpaid work (including care) is a goal, then there are a number of possible models for achieving this (Callister, 2005). Some of these models do not have to be mutually exclusive. One that most of this paper focuses on is increasing the time fathers spend with their children and/or increasing other caregiving activities of men (and, at the same time, potentially increasing other unpaid work of men), but the other route is lowering the amount of unpaid work, including childcare and eldercare within households, then equalising whatever unpaid work remains.
Various components of unpaid work can be contracted out, so parents as well as other adults can be more focused on paid work and/or childcare and eldercare. One route involves primarily the outsourcing of non-caring housework. This involves hiring cleaners, gardeners, eating out and outsourcing many other housework jobs. This gives the potential to spend more time with children or other dependents. Another route involves the outsourcing of all unpaid work, including childcare and eldercare. Again, there are options within this. The care of children or older people can be in high-quality care settings - for children, generally in early childhood centres, schools or after-school care. Older people can be cared for in their homes or in residential care. In all these situations, the carers/teachers can be well trained and well regulated. Alternatively, poorly trained low-income workers can provide the care in these situations.
The other model is the low-income individualised outsourcing route. In Europe and the United States, relatively low-skilled immigrants from countries such as the Philippines, Turkey or Mexico are often among those who are employed by high-earning families to provide personalised family services including childcare and eldercare (Ehrenreich and Hochschild, 2002).
The decisions as to how to undertake household work will be being made by individuals but also by society. Policies about childcare/eldercare and migration, as well as attitudes of families and individuals, will all impact on how much unpaid work is carried out in society but also how the remaining unpaid work in the household is shared. Such decisions will also impact on gender segregation in paid work, given that most outsourced caregiving work is undertaken by women. Gender segregation may then feed back into what are seen as appropriate roles of men in unpaid work. The model of outsourcing will also impact on the pay rates for such work and both horizontal and vertical equity.
Decline of men in paid caring roles in New Zealand
Over the long term, the education of children, including very young children, has been moved outside the household; thus, the requirement has grown for a paid teaching staff. In New Zealand, as in many other industrialised countries, there has been a decline in the proportion of teachers who are male in early childhood education and care, as well as in both primary and secondary schools. These trends show up in official Ministry of Education data, but have also been commented on by researchers and by the media (for example, Livingstone, 2002; Farquhar, 2007). Various theories have been put forward as to why it might be important to have men in pre-tertiary teaching roles. One is around improving boys' academic performance (Dee, 2006; Buchmann and DiPrete, 2006). However, another is that, as more boys are being raised by mothers only and/or lack good male role-models present in the family, then it is important to have caring male role-models within education. There is currently little strong evidence supporting or refuting this theory, however.
In terms of barriers to men taking these paid caring roles, a number of factors have been explored. These include that men can find better paying jobs elsewhere; attitudes and behaviours of parents, teachers, colleagues; working in a female-dominated environment; and beliefs about the roles of men and women and gender appropriate jobs. A further issue raised by a number of researchers in New Zealand is whether men feel that this caring role is unsafe for them given the potential for false accusations of abuse. The concerns about this appear to have reached a peak in the immediate period after the Peter Ellis case (Cushman, 2005). Whether barriers to men in these paid caring roles reflect wider barriers to men in taking unpaid caring roles is unclear, or whether this is an issue that is separate, but overall, it is likely that a concern about men looking after children in a paid role does reflect some concerns about men, or particular men, as carers.
 Our methodology for selecting relevant literature is set out in Appendix 1.
 Fieldwork for the next time use survey is being conducted in late 2009, and results will be available in 2011.
 These data are calculated not by using couples as the unit of analysis but according to individuals who live in couples.
 The OECD did not calculate an average OECD ratio, as not all countries deposited time use data. In addition, there were compatibility problems with the data that were deposited that prevented the averaging of the figures.
 It is not clear why the OECD ratio and the ratio calculated by Stevens are so different.
 Time use data also show that some paid and unpaid work is carried out simultaneously, for example working on paid work at home while caring for children (Callister and Singley, 2004).
 The total time spent in paid and unpaid work varies considerably between countries, suggesting some differences in time use methodologies.
 This reduction in housework hours can occur in a variety of ways. Standards may be lowered or housework time may be ‘intensified’; that is, more work is carried out in less time. For example, dishwashers or clothes driers may speed up housework, or individuals may simply work harder. For those who can afford it, ‘professionals’ are increasingly cleaning houses, while other forms of household work, such as food preparation, are increasingly being ‘outsourced’. This outsourcing in relation to both men’s and women’s childcare time is explored in more depth in another section.
 In this context, some separated fathers have argued that, if they are paying child support, this should ensure some access to their children.
 An example of a faith-based group supporting fathers, but generally within traditional role models, is the Promise Keepers –see www.promisekeepers.org.nz/fathers.html.