Why the Cost of Parenthood Is Not Reducible to The Cost of Motherhood?

Robert I. Gal , Hungarian Demographic Research Institute
Pieter Vanhuysse, University of Southern Denmark
Marton Medgyesi, TARKI, Social Research Instiute and Centre for Social Sciences

Parents contribute many more intergenerational resource transfers over the course of their working lives than non-parents in Europe. But is this seeming parenthood gap in reality just a motherhood gap? To explore this question, we use National Transfer/Time Transfer Accounts to compare the net transfer burdens of fathers, non-fathers, mothers and non-mothers, for three transfer types (public, private money, private time) in 12 EU countries. We find that parenthood is not reducible to motherhood. The gap between mothers and non-mothers is not larger than between fathers and non-fathers. What sharply distinguishes fathers and mothers in the statistically less visible family realm is not their overall transfer burden but its composition: fathers mainly contribute money, mothers mainly contribute time. The double novelty of NTA and NTTA methodology does justice to parents of both genders: measuring intrafamilial money transfers makes fathers' contributions more completely visible; incorporating the realm of unpaid labor does the same with mothers. Shining a wider light on the hidden contributions of mothers and fathers reveals how costly parenthood really is in contemporary Europe.

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 Presented in Session 94. Intergenerational Relations and Transfers