Parents’ time with a partner in a cross-national context: A comparison of the United States, Spain, and France

Joan García-Román, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background: Time shared with a partner is an indicator of marital well-being and couples’ want to spend time together. However, time spent with a partner depends on work and family arrangements as well as on the policies, norms, and values that prevail in society. In contrast to time spent with children, couples’ shared time is underresearched in a cross-national context. Previous studies from specific countries show that dual-earner couples spend less time together and that parents spend less time alone with each other. Objective: The aim of our study is to investigate partnered parents’ shared time across countries to understand how social conditions, cultural norms, and policy contexts are related to the amount and nature of couples’ shared time. Specifically, we compare time spent with a partner in the United States, France, and Spain. Methods: Studying data from national time use surveys conducted in the United States, France, and Spain, we extract information about who undertakes certain activities in order to examine three types of time shared with a partner for parents with children under age 10: total time with a partner indicates the minutes per day spent in the presence of a partner, exclusive time corresponds to the minutes per day spent alone with a partner when no one else is present, and family time indicates the minutes per day spent with a partner and a child at the same time. Results: Our results show that US couples spend the least time together and Spanish couples spend the most time together. Parents in France spend the most time alone with each other. The most striking difference across countries is in time with a partner and children, which is much higher among Spanish families. Conclusions: The constraints of paid work explain a small part of the differences in couples’ shared time observed between countries. Differences in couples’ shared time across countries seem to be related to social norms surrounding family and general time use. Contribution: Examination of couples’ shared time in cross-national context is unexplored. By examining cross-national variation in work and family demands on parents’ time with a partner in three countries - the United States, Spain, and France - each with different social and policy contexts as well as cultural norms about the desire to spend more or less time with a partner, this research begins to fill the current void in the literature.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-144
Number of pages34
JournalDemographic Research
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

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parents
Spain
France
time
underage
Social Norms

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Parents’ time with a partner in a cross-national context: A comparison of the United States, Spain, and France. / García-Román, Joan; Flood, Sarah; Genadek, Katie.

In: Demographic Research, Vol. 36, No. 4, 2017, p. 111-144.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - Background: Time shared with a partner is an indicator of marital well-being and couples’ want to spend time together. However, time spent with a partner depends on work and family arrangements as well as on the policies, norms, and values that prevail in society. In contrast to time spent with children, couples’ shared time is underresearched in a cross-national context. Previous studies from specific countries show that dual-earner couples spend less time together and that parents spend less time alone with each other. Objective: The aim of our study is to investigate partnered parents’ shared time across countries to understand how social conditions, cultural norms, and policy contexts are related to the amount and nature of couples’ shared time. Specifically, we compare time spent with a partner in the United States, France, and Spain. Methods: Studying data from national time use surveys conducted in the United States, France, and Spain, we extract information about who undertakes certain activities in order to examine three types of time shared with a partner for parents with children under age 10: total time with a partner indicates the minutes per day spent in the presence of a partner, exclusive time corresponds to the minutes per day spent alone with a partner when no one else is present, and family time indicates the minutes per day spent with a partner and a child at the same time. Results: Our results show that US couples spend the least time together and Spanish couples spend the most time together. Parents in France spend the most time alone with each other. The most striking difference across countries is in time with a partner and children, which is much higher among Spanish families. Conclusions: The constraints of paid work explain a small part of the differences in couples’ shared time observed between countries. Differences in couples’ shared time across countries seem to be related to social norms surrounding family and general time use. Contribution: Examination of couples’ shared time in cross-national context is unexplored. By examining cross-national variation in work and family demands on parents’ time with a partner in three countries - the United States, Spain, and France - each with different social and policy contexts as well as cultural norms about the desire to spend more or less time with a partner, this research begins to fill the current void in the literature.

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