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One-fifth of families still rely on the father to be the main breadwinner, according to new research

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A fifth of families are still relying on the father as a source of main income, according to new research released by the University of East Anglia (UEA). This is despite a substantial growth in the number of homes bringing in two incomes.

The study, conducted by Professor Sara Connolly and Dr Matthew Aldrich, also saw an increase in ‘non-standard’ working relationships, with mothers working longer hours in part time roles.

The research revealed that the traditional family set up, where the father works full-time and the mother part-time, had decreased from 37 per cent in 2001 to 31 per cent in 2014. ‘Dual full-time’ households had also increased to 31 per cent, while those households classed as ‘non-standard’ had risen to 12 per cent, partly due to an increase of male part-time workers and full-time, breadwinning mothers.

Speaking of the results, Professor Connollly, Professor of Personnel Economics at UEA’s Norwich Business School, said, “While our results suggest both some merging and greater diversity in economic provisioning between British parents, the societal infrastructure still tends to promote and support a full-time breadwinner plus part-time carer model, slowing adjustment to the gender revolution.”

Dr Aldrich, lecturer in economics at UEA, also added, “The dual full-time earner model is growing in significance for British parents of young children but a new gender equality in work-family roles has not yet been reached. It seems that culturally embedded gender-based norms as well as economic calculations are at work, resulting in a very slow adjustment to the view and practice that parental responsibilities can be equally shared by both parents.”

The report suggests that an improvement in the paternity leave could help more British fathers to become involved in looking after their children, which could help parents manage a better work-life balance. However, Professor Margaret O’Brien, University College of London, said, “Unfortunately, the new shared parental leave legislation, despite its name, fails to offer British parents real choice about how to manage work and caring for a baby.”

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