New Parents in Europe
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New Parents in Europe

Work-Care Practices, Gender Norms and Family Policies

Edited by Daniela Grunow and Marie Evertsson

This innovative book explores the different ways in which dual-earner couples in contemporary welfare states plan for, realize and justify their divisions of work and care during the transition to parenthood. Providing a unique comparative, longitudinal and qualitative analysis of new parents in eight European countries, this timely book explicitly locates couples’ beliefs and negotiations in the wider context of national institutional structures.
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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

Nadia Girardin, Doris Hanappi and Jean-Marie Le Goff

Abstract

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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