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The Effects of Gender Equality-Focused Parental Benefits on Union Stability
Rachel Margolis will present “The Effects of Gender Equality-Focused Parental Benefits on Union Stability” as part of the Carolina Population Center’s 2019-2020 Interdisciplinary Research Seminar Series.
Rachel Margolis is an associate professor in the sociology department at the University of Western Ontario, where she has worked since her PhD in Demography and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research addresses population aging, changes in family networks, population health and social policy.
This paper examines how a policy aimed to promote gender equality at home and in the workplace unintentionally made unions more stable. Paid parental benefits policies were originally designed to increase women’s return to work after childbirth. However, more recent extensions of these policies aim to promote more equal care and paid work for parents. This is a great example of a social policy which was first used to encourage the first phase of the gender revolution, the movement of women into the paid labor force, and then have been adapted to promote the second phase of this revolution, the movement of men into care work and housework. Even though these policies have no explicit aims regarding relationship stability, these policies have the potential to shift union stability because the newly unequal division of labor is a source of stress and common cause of union dissolution for parents. Using administrative data from Canada, this paper contributes to a broad literature in sociology about whether and how family policies can shape unions and family structure.