The division of paid labour across the family cycle: a cross-European perspective (2004-2008)

Jeffrey Neilson, Lund University

Despite trends of rising women’s education and labor force participation, the presence of children in the household continues to have highly differential impacts on women’s employment across countries and over family cycle stages. This paper examines the division of paid labor between coupled men and women for 25 European countries adhering to different welfare regimes, using micro-level data from the 2004-2008 European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). A multi-stage empirical analysis explores the division of labor at the extensive (employment) and intensive (work hours) margins, comparing childless men and women to those with children across four family cycle stages. Results indicate that over the family cycle, the gender gap in employment rates between couples without and with children emerges for all welfare regimes when young children 0-2 are present, and as children age, the gap narrows most quickly in the social democratic regime countries. Over the family cycle, men with children generally work more weekly hours than men without children. Women with children however work less than those without children with remarkable persistency across the entire family cycle in nearly all European countries, although these effects dissipate for women as children age in certain social democratic, southern European, and post-socialist countries. When analyzing dual-worker couples only, the family cycle pattern looks highly similar across all regime types except those where women’s part-time work is prevalent, suggestive that in certain regimes shifts over time on the extensive work margin will go a long way towards equalizing the division of paid labor across Europe, while others will benefit from shifts in work hour intensity.

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Presented in Poster Session 1