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The Other Partner: The Changing Role of Good Provider for Men’s Union Formation in Industrialized Countries

Population Research Laboratory, University of Alberta
Publication Date
  • Economics


Most studies of union formation behaviors have focused on women and children, with less emphasis on men. Using comparable retrospective survey data, this study looks at the ways Canadian, Italian and Swedish men begin conjugal life (distinguishing between marriage and cohabitation) and at how the effects of their good provider status qualifications have changed in the last 30 years. Results for Canadian men have shown that the simple patterns that have been assumed to shape separate and symmetrical roles for men and women are taking new shapes with the growth in cohabitation and changes in women's economic roles. Our study will extend these results to examine two countries at very different levels of cohabitation prevalence: Italy, where the growth in cohabitation has just begun, and Sweden, where it has been underway much longer than in Canada. Our results show strongly parallel changes underway in each country, indicating that it is important to continue to compare, both between countries and over time, if we are to understand the situations fostering (or not) changing gender roles for men as good providers.

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