Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



Increasingly, both mothers and fathers are expected to play an equal role in child rearing. Nonetheless, we know little about how childcare arrangements affect couples’ sexual intimacy and relationship quality. Research has focused on the effect of the division of paid labor and housework on couples’ relationships - finding that egalitarianism is problematic for sexual intimacy, relationship quality, and relationship stability. These findings, nonetheless, come almost universally from studies utilizing decades old data and which fail to examine the division of childcare. In this study we update this work by utilizing data from the 2006 Marital and Relationship Study (MARS) (N = 974) to examine how the division of childcare affects the relationship quality and sexual intimacy of heterosexual couples in the United States. Results indicate that men’s performance of childcare is generally associated with more satisfaction with the division of childcare, more satisfying sexual relationships, and higher quality relationships. Importantly, we find that egalitarian childcare arrangements have positive consequences for both men and women. These findings contribute to a growing body of research that challenges the costs of egalitarianism and indicates instead that egalitarianism is associated with higher quality, more intimate relationships than gender traditional arrangements.

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Sociology Commons