Volume 44 - Article 13 | Pages 333–348 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

Exploring the concept of intensive parenting in a three-country study

By Anne Gauthier, Caroline Bryson, Luisa Fadel, Tina Haux, Judith Koops, Monika Mynarska

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:19 Jul 2019
Date published:11 Feb 2021
Word count:2488
Keywords:cross-national comparison, fertility, intensive parenting, norms hypothesis
Additional files:readme.44-13 (text file, 1 kB)
 demographic-research.44-13 (zip file, 214 kB)


Background: In recent decades there has been growing interest in the concept of intensive parenting. However, the literature is mostly qualitative and based on Anglo-Saxon countries. This raises the question of how best to operationalise the concept in a wider cross-national setting.

Objective: This paper aims to operationalise the theoretical concept of intensive parenting in a cross-national perspective.

Methods: The data for this study come from the CROss-National Online Survey panel [CRONOS], conducted in Estonia, Great Britain, and Slovenia in 2017. The analysis is based on 18 items on norms related to raising children. Exploratory factor analyses were carried out to identify dimensions of intensive parenting. Variation by respondents’ sociodemographics for the different dimensions was also analysed.

Results: The results reveal four main dimensions regarding contemporary norms of parenting: a child-centred approach, a focus on stimulating children’s development, personal responsibility to do one’s best for one’s children, and pressure to follow experts’ advice. These four dimensions were found in all three countries.

Conclusions: The results partly confirm the conception of intensive parenting originally suggested by Hays (1986). They also reveal that the phenomenon is not restricted to Anglo-Saxon countries but can be operationalised in a similar way in other countries. The findings also reveal some variation by sociodemographic characteristics, but not in a systematic way.

Contribution: This is the first study to use random probability population-based samples to operationalise the concept of intensive parenting in a cross-national perspective.

Author's Affiliation

Anne Gauthier - Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut (NIDI), the Netherlands [Email]
Caroline Bryson - Bryson Purdon Social Research LLP (BPSR), United Kingdom [Email]
Luisa Fadel - Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut (NIDI), the Netherlands [Email]
Tina Haux - University of Kent, United Kingdom [Email]
Judith Koops - Nederlands Interdisciplinair Demografisch Instituut (NIDI), the Netherlands [Email]
Monika Mynarska - Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego w Warszawie, Poland [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Free to stay, free to leave: Insights from Poland into the meaning of cohabitation
Volume 31 - Article 36

» Towards a new understanding of cohabitation: Insights from focus group research across Europe and Australia
Volume 31 - Article 34

» Meanings and attitudes attached to cohabitation in Poland: Qualitative analyses of the slow diffusion of cohabitation among the young generation
Volume 16 - Article 17

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Labour market integration, occupational uncertainty, and fertility choices in Germany and the UK
Volume 26 - Article 12    | Keywords: cross-national comparison, fertility

» Investigating the application of generalized additive models to discrete-time event history analysis for birth events
Volume 47 - Article 22    | Keywords: fertility

» Female sterilization in the life course: Understanding trends and differentials in early sterilization
Volume 47 - Article 18    | Keywords: fertility

» Disentangling the Swedish fertility decline of the 2010s
Volume 47 - Article 12    | Keywords: fertility

» Household structure across childhood in four lower- and middle-income countries
Volume 47 - Article 6    | Keywords: cross-national comparison