AbstractHow individuals perceive raising children varies across countries. Researchers seeking to explain this have tended to focus on variation in family policies across countries, arguing that having children is perceived more negatively in terms of cost and disturbance to parents’ freedom and careers in countries where less policy support for families is provided. In this study, I add to the literature on attitudes toward child‐raising by focusing on a key feature of the cultural context: societal gender‐role norms. I posit that greater normative expectations in favor of women's “dual” responsibilities of being wage earners and devoted mothers are associated with more negative perceptions of parenthood. Using internationally comparative data drawn from 27 OECD countries, I find that in countries where the dual role expectation is established as a dominant cultural norm for women, people are more likely to perceive children as a burden. This pattern is particularly pronounced among women, who must contend with the dual expectations of contributing to family income while assuming the responsibility of primary caregiver. Furthermore, I find that between‐country differences in the normative context play a larger role than the policy context in explaining variation in the perceived costs/disruptiveness of children across countries.

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