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Title: Culture or Constraints? Parenthood and the Persistence of Inequality
Authors: Ishizuka, Patrick Steven
Advisors: McLanahan, Sara
Contributors: Sociology Department
Keywords: Family
Labor Markets
Subjects: Sociology
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Parenthood plays a critical role in both reproducing socioeconomic inequalities across generations and exacerbating gender inequalities in the family and in the labor market. Three important empirical patterns related to parenthood and inequality motivate this dissertation: (1) differences in the parenting behaviors of more- and less-educated parents, (2) differences in the parenting behaviors of mothers and fathers, (3) differences in the motherhood wage penalty experienced by low- and high-skilled women. While each of these patterns is well documented, understanding how and why they occur has been challenging with existing data. Explanations center on the relative contributions of culture and constraints. This dissertation aims to evaluate these explanations. The dissertation is divided into three empirical chapters and draws on data from two original, large-scale experiments. In the first chapter, I use data from a vignette survey experiment about parenting attitudes conducted on a nationally representative sample of parents. I ask whether parents differ by education in their views about “good” parenting. Next, using data from the same survey experiment, the second chapter examines how gender shapes evaluations of different parenting behaviors. Finally, the third chapter relies on data from an audit study. I replicate previous research on labor market discrimination by motherhood status by submitting fictitious resumes and cover letters to apply to actual marketing manager job openings, experimentally manipulating the motherhood status of applicants. However, the study extends prior work by examining how motherhood status affects women’s labor market opportunities in different low- and high-skilled occupations. Evaluating the causal mechanisms hypothesized to underlie these parenthood-related inequalities has potentially important scientific and policy benefits. Billions of dollars are spent annually on programs that aim to support parental investments in children, and current welfare policy assumes that low-income mothers do not face significant employment barriers. Findings from this dissertation matter not only for improving our understanding of the relative contributions of culture and constraints in generating inequality, but also for informing effective social policy.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Sociology

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