Fathers in Context: Comparative Analysis of Father Involvement in Bulgaria and the Netherlands
This report compares father involvement with their children in Bulgaria and the Netherlands by examining country differences in family formation patterns, policy context, and cultural prescriptions regarding family life. In studying the time fathers spend with their children, it is important to distinguish between time-structuring and time-flexible tasks because these tasks tend to be divided along gendered lines. Time-structuring tasks are those tasks that take a longer time to complete or have to be performed at a certain time of the day, such as bathing or feeding the child, and often fall to mothers to perform. Time-flexible tasks, on the other hand, are commonly performed by fathers. These are the tasks that can be performed at any time of the day and include reading to and playing with the child.
Major conclusions are as follows:
With regard to family formation patterns, the two-child family model is persistent in both Bulgaria and the Netherlands, despite the Netherlands being farther along the individualisation process than Bulgaria.
The policy context in Bulgaria can be characterised by continuity with the country’s socialist past. Maternity, paternity, and parental leave remain long by international standards, and both mothers and fathers are expected to participate full-time in the labour market. Policy recommendations include:
- Fathers in Bulgaria may benefit from more flexible work arrangements that allow them to combine work and childcare,
- whilst mothers may benefit from shorter maternity leave which helps prevent discrimination on the labour market.
- High quality childcare services for all children would benefit both mothers and fathers
- as would policy supporting grandparental care.