Variations in work preferences in the transition to parenthood? Evidences from a qualitative longitudinal research on Italian couples

Sonia Bertolini, Rosy Musumeci


This paper investigates the preferences and decisions of first-time fathers and mothers on work and participation in the labour market during the transition to parenthood by analysing interview data on 22 Italian couples. Each partner of each couple had been interviewed separately before and after the birth of the first child, for a total of 88 interviews. We consider individuals as being dynamic and interactive, having preferences that can vary over time, with regard to structural, institutional, and economic constraints, but also in relation to the different phases of their life course and in the interaction with partners. The four interviews per couple allowed us to reconstruct expectations, preferences, and behaviour on work in three stages of mothers’ and fathers’ life course: 1) pre-pregnancy period, which is reconstructed retrospectively during the antenatal interview, 2) pregnancy, 3) and finally when the son/daughter is about one and a half years old.


Keywords: parenthood, work, preferences, transitions, Italy.

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