Volume 40 - Article 30 | Pages 865–896  

Fathers' involvement with their children in the United Kingdom: Recent trends and class differences

By Ursula Henz

This article is part of the Special Collection 31 "The new roles of women and men and implications for families and societies"


Background: Many studies of Western societies have documented an increasing involvement of fathers with their children since the 1970s. The trend reflects changes in the meaning of fatherhood and contributes to child well-being and gender equality. New policies in the United Kingdom might have further encouraged father involvement in the new millennium. Differences in father involvement between socioeconomic groups have caused concern since they contribute to inequality in resources available to children.

Objective: This paper examines the recent trends and social differences in father involvement with children in the United Kingdom.

Methods: Data from the UK Time Use Surveys 2000–2001 and 2014–2015 are analysed using regression models.

Results: Fathers' overall involvement in childcare in the new millennium has been stable but differences emerge when looking at specific childcare activities, in particular on weekend days. In 2014 fathers were less likely to provide interactive care and active fathers provided on average fewer minutes of physical care than in 2000. Fathers from higher SES groups offset some of these trends by increased participation rates in physical care in 2014 compared to 2000.

Conclusions: The stability of fathers' involvement signifies a stalling of the transformation of the father role and progress towards gender equality in the home in large parts of the population. Father involvement on weekend days continues to diverge between high and low status groups.

Contribution: This is the first comprehensive analysis of trends in father involvement in the new millennium using time-use data. It is the first analysis that finds no further increase of father involvement in the United Kingdom.

Author's Affiliation

  • Ursula Henz - London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom EMAIL

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Long-term trends of men’s co-residence with children in England and Wales
Volume 30 - Article 23

Gender roles and values of children: Childless Couples in East and West Germany
Volume 19 - Article 39

Childbirth in East and West German Stepfamilies: Estimated probabilities from hazard rate models
Volume 7 - Article 6

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