Couples, families, parenthood, and women's work: the models change with generations

Alice Mainguené, division Études sociales, Insee

Over the past fifty years, family structures have gradually diverged from the traditional models. Attitudes toward partnerships have evolved in step with social changes. Consensual unions and divorces have entered into French mores and attitudes. The diversity of family pathways has also gained acceptance. One-half of the French population believes that women should have children and raise them alone if they want to. However, viewing the issue from the children's standpoint, respondents clearly state the importance of both parents. They feel that a two-parent household is necessary for the child's self-fulfilment, they have few preconceived ideas about which parent should get custody after a divorce, and they believe that a father's excessive preoccupation with his work is detrimental to child development. Opinions on women's work have shifted substantially. One-half of the 75-79s are rather favourable to men being given priority over women in hirings during an economic crisis, but only one in ten adults under 30 shares this view. Nevertheless, when it comes to young children, one-half of adults think that a child can suffer because of a working mother. Men and women often hold similar opinions. However, women are less inclined than men to value the role of fathers, while men are more worried about the potential consequences of working mothers on the well-being of young children.

Insee Première
No 1339
Paru le : 01/03/2011