Gender, children, and social contact: The effects of childrearing for men and women


Journal Article

We investigate the impact of childrearing on men's and women's social networks, using a probability sample of residents of 10 Great Plains towns. Data support the hypotheses that social network size, contact volume, and composition vary with the age of the youngest child in a family. Childrearing reduces women's network size and contact volume, while it alters the composition of men's networks. Effects are most pronounced when the youngest child is around three years old. These results suggest the possibility that sex differences in structural location (in the sense of embeddedness in social networks) explain sex differences in outcomes over the life course. The gender-specific effects of this life stage may accrue because childrearing places men and women in separate social worlds; childbearing and childrearing thus may be a crucial phase in the process by which gender differences are created and maintained.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Munch, A; McPherson, JM; Smith-Lovin, L

Published Date

  • January 1, 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 62 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 509 - 520

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-1224

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2307/2657423

Citation Source

  • Scopus