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Gender, Employment, and Work-Family Policy: Lessons from Europe:. Janet C. Gornick The Graduate Center, City University of New York Ariane Hegewisch Institute for Women’s Policy Research Work Family Research Network Conference 2012. O verview.

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Gender employment and work family policy lessons from europe

Gender, Employment, and Work-Family Policy: Lessons from Europe:

Janet C. Gornick

The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Ariane Hegewisch

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Work Family Research Network Conference 2012

O verview

  • EU policy levers for work-family supports and for gender equality

    • Directives, the Court, Euros and knowledge

    • Policy debates and priorities

  • What is on offer: Europe vs. US?

    • Parental leave, child care

  • Lessons from research on work-family policies

    • Intended consequences (economic, demographic)

    • Unintended consequences (gender inequality?)

  • Are these policies compatible with the US political, economic, and demographic context?

Eu policy levers
EU Policy Levers

  • Directives set (mostly) minimum standards

    • 1992 Pregnant Workers Directive: 14 weeks job-protected paid maternity leave

    • 1996/2010 Parental Leave Directive: 4 months job-protected parental leave; temporary flexibility after return from parental leave

    • 1997 Part-time Workers Directive: equal treatment for part-time workers; encouragement for win-win flexibility/access to quality part-time work

    • 2003 EU Working Time Directive: 20 days paid annual leave; minimum rest periods; cap on working week

       All unlike US

  • European Court of Justice

    • Definition of indirect discrimination/disparate impact

      • Women working part-time work because of primary caregiving responsibility

      • Higher threshold for allowing business costs defense

Work family reconciliation us vs eu private choice vs public good
Work-Family Reconciliation — US vs. EU:Private Choice vs. Public Good

  • European Union

    “the objectives of the [Parental Leave] Directive, namely to improve the reconciliation of work, private and family life for working parents and equality between men and women with regard to labour market opportunities and treatment at work across the Union…”

  • US

    EEOC v. Bloomberg LLP (2011): judge’s opinion dismissing a charge of unequal treatment of women returning from maternity leave, with reference to Jack Welsh (ex-CEO of General Electric) quote: “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences;” [….] “The law does not mandate ‘work-life balance.’”

Eu policy levers1
EU Policy Levers

  • Targets, Expert Networks, and the European Social Fund

    • Increase labor force participation and employment rates

    • Increase child care enrollment for pre-school

  • Diversity in policy debates and motivations

    • labor supply; public finance; gender equality; anti-poverty; educational outcomes; work-life balance; etc.

  • EU: Common minimum standards, huge diversity in country-level policies and work-family infrastructure

  • Gender employment and work family policy lessons from europe

    Leave Policy — Generosity Indicator (2009):weeks available to mothers (unpaid, paid, total)● US family leave policy is exceptionally meager. ● In the US, employer-provider leave is limited and the distribution is regressive.

    Gender employment and work family policy lessons from europe

    Leave Policy — Gender Equality Index (2009):extent to which policy rules encourage gender-symmetrical leave-taking● Generosity and gender-egalitarian design are distinct policy features.● US leave policy is moderately gender-egalitarian; the FMLA grants men and women identical, non-transferrable entitlements.

    Gender employment and work family policy lessons from europe

    Early Childhood Education and Care (2009):percentage of children in formal care (public and private)● In comparative perspective, the US provides especially little public child care.

    Lessons from europe intended consequences
    Lessons from Europeintended consequences

    • Work-family policy designs influence economic and demographic outcomes

      ● Countries with most extensive work-family reconciliation policies have highest women’s labor force participation and highest fertility rates (e.g., France, Denmark, Sweden).

      ● Countries with least extensive work-family reconciliation policies have lowest women’s labor force participation and lowest fertility rates (e.g., Germany, Italy, Spain).

      ● Poverty rates for households with children tend to be lower in countries with extensive work-family supports.

      • Core lesson: work-family policy is also macroeconomic policy; policy failure has significant economic consequences

        “If countries with no paid maternity leave (such as the United States) introduce this measure at the average OECD level (15 weeks), they could increase MFP [multi factor productivity] by 1.1 percent in the long run.”

        Bassaniniand Venn, 2008:11, OECD Monitor

    Lessons from europe unint ended consequences
    Lessons from Europeunintended consequences?

    • What about unintended consequences?

      • Are some countries trading higher employment rates for a lower and more impenetrable glass ceiling?

      • Do gendered policy effects vary by class?

    What is suppressing work family reconciliation policy development in the us some thoughts
    What is suppressing “work-family reconciliation policy” development in the US? some thoughts

    1. Persistent ambivalence about maternal employment;

    the “mommy wars” are especially intense and polarizing in the US.

    2. An unusually privatized conception of childrearing and family responsibility; “work/family conflict” is generally viewed as a private issue; “children as pets”.

    3. “Hard work” mythicized in American political culture; calls for shorter work hours (among men) meet resistance from many quarters; the value of time (versus income) is rarely noted in public discourse.

    4. Fertility declines not (yet) an issue in the US; in Europe, these programs are widely understood to be crucial for sustaining high birth rates (and current demographic outcomes bear that out).

    5. Lack of awareness of policy provisions in similar countries.

    Prospects for the us some reasons for optimism remember 2007
    Prospects for the US? development in the some reasons for optimism (remember 2007!)

    • Americans generally react favorably to public programs that enable and encourage paid work.

    • Americans value “choice”, and “European-style” work-family programs provide ample room for individual “choices” and for variation across local communities.

    • The costs of an expanded system of work-family policy may be less than expected; primary and secondary education lay the groundwork.

    References development in the

    • Bassanini, Andrea and Danielle Venn. 2008. “The Impact of Labour Market Policies on Productivity in OECD Countries.” International Productivity Monitor 17 (Fall): 3-13

    • OECD Family Database,3746,en_2649_34819_37836996_1_1_1_1,00.html

    • OECD. 2012. Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship: Final Report to the MCM 2012; Paris: OECD

    • Ray, Rebecca, Gornick, Janet, and Schmitt, John. 2010. “Who cares? Assessing generosity and gender equality in parental leave policy designs in 21 countries.” Journal of European Social Policy, 20,196-216