Gender Equality for Whom? Changing Work-Family Arrangements Among American Couples, 1969–2015

Lea Pessin , Pennsylvania State University

As a response to women’s changing roles in the public sphere, couples have adopted varied strategies to reconcile the needs of their families and careers. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and latent-class analysis, this article studies the multidimensional nature of work-family arrangements in the United States. I identify seven distinct work-family arrangements: traditional, neotraditional, double-burden, egalitarian, double-burden reversed, female breadwinner and neither working couples. Between 1969 and 2015, the prevalence of traditional couples experienced the largest decrease, giving room to egalitarian couples but also unconventional work-family arrangements (double-burden reversed and female breadwinner). Furthermore, preliminary results suggest that these work family arrangements are distributed unequally across social strata. The prevalence of egalitarian partnerships has increased the most among higher-educated couples, while lower-educated couples are increasingly more likely to adopt a female breadwinner arrangement. These findings echo the increasing polarization of Americans’ caregiving patterns and work opportunities.

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 Presented in Session 17. Gender, Family, and Work