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Open Access Research article

The relationship between a less gender-stereotypical parenthood and alcohol-related care and death: A registry study of Swedish mothers and fathers

Anna Månsdotter12*, Mona Backhans1 and Johan Hallqvist1

Author Affiliations

1 Karolinska Institutet, Department of Public Health Science, Division of Social Medicine, SE-171 76 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Swedish National Institute of Public Health, Research Department, SE-831 40 Östersund, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2008, 8:312  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-312

Published: 15 September 2008

Abstract

Background

In general men tend to drink more alcohol and experience more alcohol-related sickness, injuries and mortality than women. In this paper, the overall hypothesis was that increased gender similarity in the division of parental duties would lead to convergence in alcohol-related harm. The aim was to analyse whether the risk of alcohol harm differs between parents who fit a gender-stereotypical versus those with a less gender-stereotypical division of childcare and paid work.

Methods

The study sample was a retrospective registry-based cohort study of all Swedish couples who had their first child together in 1978 (N = 49,120). A less gender-stereotypical parenthood was indicated by paternity leave for fathers (1978–1979) and full-time work for mothers (1980). The outcome was inpatient care and/or death caused by alcohol psychosis, alcoholism, liver disease, or alcohol intoxication in the two decades following (1981–2001). Our main statistical method was multivariate logistic regression with odds ratios used to estimate relative risks.

Results

The main results show that fathers who took paternity leave had 18% lower risk of alcohol-related care and/or death than other fathers. Mothers who worked full-time about two years after having a child had 71% higher risk than mothers who were unemployed or worked part-time.

Conclusion

A less gender-stereotypical division of duties between parents in early parenthood may contribute to a long-term decreased gender disparity regarding risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. In order to know more about the causal direction however, future research has to consider subjects' drinking patterns in the years prior to parenthood.