Professor Irene Boeckmann's Connaught-funded project asks how fatherhood affects careers in 33 countries

June 21, 2017 by Sherri Klassen

Professor Irene Boeckmann has recently received a Connaught New Researcher Award to begin a major project studying the variations in the impact of fatherhood across different national contexts. The Connaught program seeks to help new tenure stream faculty members at the University of Toronto establish competitive research programs.

Professor Boeckmann's research probes the phenomenon known as "the fatherhood premium."

Researchers often point to parenthood and care responsibilities for children as a central piece in the puzzle of why economic inequalities between women and men endure. While women tend to incur earnings losses when they become mothers, many men experience just the opposite, i.e. their earnings tend to increase upon entering fatherhood. However, these “fatherhood earnings premiums” vary across different contexts. Professor Boeckmann's research takes a comparative approach to better understand the sources of these “fatherhood premiums.”

The project asks whether and why men experience earnings increases when becoming fathers in 33 countries across Europe and North America. On the one hand, the variation of these fatherhood premiums may be rooted in cross-national differences in individual or family characteristics of fathers. On the other, it may be the result of variation in the larger socio-political and cultural contexts. For example, work-family policies supporting a male-breadwinner/female-homemaker division of labour may impact whether and how men change their employment patterns when they have children, or how fathers are perceived in the labour market.

In order to answer the research questions, Professor Boeckmann and her students will build a cross-nationally comparative dataset drawing on multiple data sources. This dataset will combine survey data on individuals’ family and labour market characteristics, as well as country-level indicators capturing characteristics of public policies, labour market regulations and cultural contexts. Connaught funding will support the first step in this project, the data collection and data preparation effort. Building this data set will entail the collection of country-level indicators, as well as the harmonization of secondary survey data on individuals from three separate household and labour market surveys.