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Aspirations and occupational achievements of Dutch fathers and mothers

Mariska van der Horst (ICS/Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Tanja van der Lippe (ICS/Department of Sociology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Esther Kluwer (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 5 August 2014




The purpose of this paper is to investigate how work and family aspirations relate to occupational achievements and gender differences herein.


Using data from 2009 the authors examined the relationship between career and childrearing aspirations and occupational achievements of Dutch parents. Using path modeling in Mplus, the authors investigated both direct and indirect pathways where aspirations were related to occupational achievements via time allocations.


The authors found that ranking being promoted instead of a non-career aspiration as the most important job aspiration was positively related to occupational achievements. Surprisingly, the authors also found that ranking childrearing as the most important life role aspiration was positively related to earnings among fathers.

Research limitations/implications

Investigating aspirations in multiple domains simultaneously can provide new information on working parents’ occupational achievements.

Practical implications

The results imply that parents who want to achieve an authority position or high earnings may need to prioritize their promotion aspiration among their job aspirations in order to increase the likelihood of achieving such a position. Moreover, this is likely to require sacrifices outside the work domain, since spending more time on paid work is an important way to achieve this aspiration.


This paper adds to previous research by explicitly taking life role aspirations into account instead of focussing solely on job aspirations. Moreover, this study extends previous research by investigating indirect pathways from aspirations to occupational achievements via family work in addition to the previously found pathway via paid work.



This study was supported by a High Potential grant of Utrecht University awarded to Tanja van der Lippe and Esther Kluwer. The authors would like to thank participants of the 2011 conference Dag van de Sociology (Sociology Day) in Gent, Belgium, and of the conference Community, Work, and Family IV in Tampere, Finland, as well as the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on earlier drafts.


van der Horst, M., van der Lippe, T. and Kluwer, E. (2014), "Aspirations and occupational achievements of Dutch fathers and mothers", Career Development International, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 447-468.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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