Is involved fatherhood increasing the birth rate?

birth rateA study from Oxford University published last year points to a potential link between increased involvement of fathers in caring for children and a rise in the birth rate.

Researchers examined time-use data from different countries in Europe and North America.

Four countries – Spain, Italy, Germany and Slovenia – have seen the following combination of trends:

  • The lowest birth rates in Europe, equal to or less than 1.5.
  • Substantial changes in gender attitudes. Attitudes of 20-49 year old men are more traditional in these countries (in response to the statement, “a man’s job is to earn money; a woman’s job is to look after the house and family”) but they have changed much more than other countries in the period 1994-2002 (a fall of 40% on average in response to the statement).
  • The time that fathers spend caring for their children has increased in all these countries, in similar degree to other European countries. Men with a college education have spent more time caring for their children.

Could there be a link? The theory is that if fathers are more involved, the conflict between work and family is less for women. This conflict is commonly associated with a lower birth rate.

Photo: Sami Nurmi. Creative Commons.