TitleNormative Climates of Parenthood across Europe: Judging Voluntary Childlessness and Working Parents
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsEicher, V, Settersten, RA, Penic, S, Glaeser, S, Martenot, A, Spini, D
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Date Published09/2015

Past research on gender role attitudes has often focused on individual- rather than country-level explanations. Drawing on European Social Survey data from 21 countries, we examine the effect of societal normative climates (i.e., shared perceptions of others’ attitudes) on personal attitudes towards two non-traditional gender roles: Voluntary childlessness and working full-time while children are young. To detect potential gender differences, we analyse disapproval of men and women separately. Findings reveal that there are strong differences in normative climates across countries, and that people generally perceive more disapproval of women than of men for both behaviours. Most importantly, in countries where a higher share of respondents perceives disapproval of these behaviours, respondents themselves disapprove more strongly—even if they do not believe that others disapprove, and even after controlling for other relevant individual- and country-level characteristics. What is more, the independent effect of normative climate explains most of the differences between countries. This robust finding demonstrates the power of country-level normative climates in explaining individuals’ attitudes and between-country differences in attitudes toward gender roles.