New AUT research offers surprising insights into how fathers are involved in childcare, and why their involvement matters.
Commissioned by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), AUT’s NZ Work Research Institute (NZWRI) examined how, how much, and how well fathers were engaged in their young children’s lives, and the impact of that engagement on the children's outcomes.
The just-released report, Fathers’ household and childcare involvement in New Zealand, used data from the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) birth cohort.
The longitudinal GUiNZ study provides information across a range of measures including the amount of parental leave fathers take, their direct involvement in day-to-day childcare, and the frequency of quality activities.
The detailed snapshot that emerged allowed researchers to also explore the association between paternal involvement in the child’s early years and children’s cognitive, physical, and psychological development later in life.
NZWRI Director and AUT Professor of Economics Gail Pacheco says the report sheds new light on how fathers approach childcare and why their involvement is meaningful.
“Until now, paternity leave has been largely used as a measure of fathers’ involvement in childcare. But because most fathers take less than two weeks’ paternity leave, this measure belies the reality of involvement by fathers and, significantly, the impact of that involvement on their children’s life outcomes,” says Professor Pacheco.