Women with children first? Parenthood, policies, and gender gaps in three European labour markets

Mari, Gabriele (2019) Women with children first? Parenthood, policies, and gender gaps in three European labour markets. PhD thesis, University of Trento, Tilburg University.

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Parenthood divides today the careers of women and men. A family gap has emerged in labour markets: Women pay economic and career prices for motherhood, while the career progression of men marches on come fatherhood. Gender inequality in paid work persists despite institutional change aimed at mitigating it or curbing it altogether. Labour market and welfare institutions have variously departed from the family wage model once supporting male breadwinning through secure, well-paid employment, surrounded by social protections. In particular, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands moved away from this family wage model in recent decades. This move has been marked by two main transformations, namely the expansion of family leave rights and the flexibilisation of employment relationships. Yet, beyond commonalities, policy trajectories have diverged in the three countries and so have their consequences for the family gap and gender inequality more broadly. Hence, I ask here how the family gap has shaped in the midst of akin and yet distinct changes in the labour market and welfare institutions formerly devoted to the family wage principle in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. By highlighting progress and stall in the ways these three countries came to modify their male breadwinner order, my main tenet is that policies aimed at women and families are not by default women- or family-friendly. The family gap, I argue, is often the unintended or perverse by-product of gradual and selective institutional change. Throughout, this overarching question is addressed drawing on panel data analysis, quasi-experimental designs, and experimental data. Chapter I analyses whether men get a wage boost caused by fatherhood or rather select into fatherhood based on prior wages. Chapter II and III evaluate the effects of changes to parental leave and working-time legislation on the motherhood wage penalty and gender career gaps more at large, respectively. Chapter IV examines discrimination at the hiring stage in two sex-typical occupations. No overarching narrative emerges. Rather, an approach grounded on causal inference, applied to the scientific explanation of gender gaps as well as to the evaluation of social policies, is advocated for.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Sociology and Social Research (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:30
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/09 SOCIOLOGIA DEI PROCESSI ECONOMICI E DEL LAVORO
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