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Jan 20, 2015 02:09 PM EST

Majority of Young Women, Men Prefer Egalitarian Relationships

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New research suggests that the majority of young women and men today would prefer an egalitarian relationship in which work and family responsibilities are shared equally between partners if that possibility were available to them.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California-Santa Barbara found that when the option is made available to them, many people -- regardless of gender or education level -- opt for a relationship in which they would share earnings and household/caregiving responsibilities equally with their partner.

Additionally, the study finds that if workplace policies that support work-family balance, such as subsidized child care, are in place, women are even more likely to prefer an egalitarian relationship and much less likely to want to be the primary homemaker or caregiver.

"This research highlights an important disjuncture between the ideals and preferences of young men and women and the workplace policies and practices that are currently standard in the United States," Sarah Thébaud, an assistant professor of sociology and a faculty research associate in the Broom Center for Demography at the University of California-Santa Barbara, said in a statement.

In a survey experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample of unmarried, childless men and women between the ages of 18 and 32 in the United States, the researchers asked respondents how they would ideally like to structure their relationship with a future spouse or partner in terms of balancing work and family life.

Researchers said their findings shows ways in which government and organizational policies could be redesigned to improve the lives of young men and women.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that if policies such as flexible scheduling, parental leave, and subsidized child care were universally in place, women would be even more likely to want an egalitarian relationship with their partner and much less likely to want to be primarily responsible for housework and childcare," researcher David Pedulla said in a statement. "These findings offer new insights that may be useful in guiding policymakers and organizations that are interested in reducing gender inequality and improving the work and family lives of young men and women."

The findings will be detailed in the February issue of American Sociological Review.

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