Chapter 7: Couples alignment of pre-birth plans and post-birth realities in Switzerland: non-normative adaptation to the one-and-a-half earner model
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This chapter examines how couples arranged work and care in Switzerland after the birth of their first child, with a focus on couples with non-normative work-care plans. The qualitative analysis reveals that few couples had non-normative intentions and managed to transform those plans into reality. However, the non-normative arrangements that couples actually adopted during their transition to parenthood were far from gender equal. Two reasons explain the persistence of gender inequality. First, at the institutional level, maternity leave, as the one and only available leave, defines the mother as the primary caregiver and supports mothers’ specialization in care. Second, at the couple level, economic and career considerations were frequently mixed with internalized norms that refer to women as the natural primary caregivers. Consistent with prior research on parents’ practices in Switzerland, we find evidence of a modernized traditionalism of work-care arrangements.

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