Social sciences

Caring and sharing: who looks after baby?

Samuel O., Brugeilles C., Demoli Y., Hamelin C., Prigent R., Elfe scientific meeting, FIAP Jean Monnet, Paris, 13 March 2017.

When the infants were 2 months old, we looked at how their mothers and fathers shared the physical childcare tasks (changing nappies, cleaning the baby’s nose, bath time, etc.). A comparison of parents’ stated attitudes towards these activities and who actually did what revealed that neither the division of childcare between the two parents nor self-reported attitudes towards this care seemed to depend on the infant’s sex. By contrast, both attitudes and levels of participation varied considerably between mothers and fathers. Our results confirm the conclusions of numerous studies that parental care and household tasks are unequally shared, with mothers being the main care providers for their infants. Nonetheless, the degree of inequality depends on the nature of the task, especially when it comes to baths and nappy changing. The tasks of bottlefeeding (i.e. for infants who are not breastfed) and putting the infant to bed are more equally shared. [Find out more]

Growing up in a family of immigrant origin in France

Eremenko T., Elfe scientific meeting, FIAP Jean Monnet, Paris, 13 March 2017.

Today, one newborn in four in France has at least one immigrant parent, with similar proportions of children with two immigrant parents and those born to mixed couples. These children’s origins partially reflect those of migrants to France over the past three decades, in that 69% have parents who were born in Africa – the majority in North Africa (40%). The family models that prevail in the sending societies and their parents’ childhood experiences (e.g., being raised by both parents, the mother, or other family members) help to shape their own family behaviour. The experience of migration (during childhood or adulthood, recent or more distant) and integration in the receiving country (employment and place of residence) also has an impact on these families’ experiences, in terms of the assistance they receive from extended family members and the household’s standard of living. [See presentation]

Low birth weight and socioeconomic characteristics

Panico L., Tô M., Thévenon O., “La fréquence des naissances de petit poids: quelle influence a le niveau d’instruction des mères?”, Population et Sociétés no. 523, June 2015.

Researchers have found that low birthweight is influenced by several socioeconomic factors, in particular the mother’s education level. Women with the lowest academic qualifications have the greatest risk of giving birth to a low-weight infant (below 2.5 kg). More specifically, this risk is 50% higher for women with no qualifications than for women with a high-school diploma. This gap narrows slightly when household income is taken into account, as well as factors such as the child’s birth order, the mother’s age and the parents’ height, but does not close altogether.
Tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy also seems to play a role, partly explaining the higher frequency of low birthweight among the offspring of the least academically qualified mothers. France and the United Kingdom have comparable socioeconomic variations in the risk of low birthweight. [Link to article]

Becoming the parents of a boy or girl

Brachet S., Brugeilles C., Paillet A., Pélage A., Rollet C., Samuel O., “Devenir parents d’une fille ou d’un garcon”, Trajectoires et Ages de Vie, XVIIIth AIDELF international symposium, Bari University, 26-30 May 2014.

Nearly nine future parents out of 10 would like to find out the sex of their child before it is born. For their first child, 60% of parents have no preference. Among the remaining 40%, preferences are equally divided among mothers (20% would like a girl and 21% a boy), but fathers are keener to have a boy (25.5% prefer a boy and 15% a girl). For their second child, the proportion of parents without a preference is very slightly lower. The preferences of the remainder are highly dependent on the sex of the first child, as parents often wish to have mixed siblings. One of the aims of this research project is to ascertain whether such preferences influence the start of parenthood.

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