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Facets of Work–Life Balance across Europe: How the interplay of institutional contexts, work arrangements and individual resources affect capabilities for having a family, and for being involved in family life
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this dissertation is to explore various dimensions of work–life balance in Europe. I examine the extent to which institutional factors, working conditions and individual resources influence individuals’ capabilities to have a family and engage in family life. The theoretical framework is inspired by Amartya Sen’s capability framework, a multi-dimensional approach that provides a deeper understanding of the relationship between institutional contexts and individual capabilities. Four studies have been conducted. The first study focuses on women’s short-term childbearing intentions in ten European countries and finds that the association between such intentions and economic uncertainties varies by the policy support for work-family reconciliation in the country as well as individual factors, such as her educational level, and her number of children. The second study addresses the impact of family-friendly working conditions on young adult women’s childbearing behaviour in Sweden, showing the importance of family-friendly working condition for the transition to motherhood of less educated childless women with low income, and for second births of low educated mothers. The third study analyses gender differences in perceived work–home conflict in ten European countries, and the importance of work-family policies and gender norms. I find that gender differences are more pronounced in countries with weaker support for work-family reconciliation and more traditional gender norms. The fourth study focuses on tensions between work and family demands that parents in Hungary and Sweden experience, and on their capabilities to make claims for work–life balance. We find greater agency inequalities for Hungarian parents for claims making for and achievement of work-life balance, in contrast to a strong sense of entitlement to exercise rights to care among Swedish parents, which reflect country variations in policy supports for work−life balance, working time regimes and social norms regarding work and care.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2012. , 177 p.
Series
Stockholm studies in sociology, ISSN 0491-0885 ; N.S., 53
Keyword [en]
capability approach, childbearing, family-friendly work, family policies, work–life balance
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79498ISBN: 978-91-87235-01-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-79498DiVA: diva2:555515
Public defence
2012-11-26, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Submitted.

Available from: 2012-11-02 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2015-06-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Capabilities and childbearing intentions in Europe: the association between work-family reconciliation policies, economic uncertainties and women’s fertility plans
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Capabilities and childbearing intentions in Europe: the association between work-family reconciliation policies, economic uncertainties and women’s fertility plans
2013 (English)In: European Societies: The Official Journal of the European Sociological Association, ISSN 1461-6696, E-ISSN 1469-8307, Vol. 15, no 5, 639-662 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article investigates the association between economic uncertainties, work-family reconciliation policies and women’s short-term childbearing intentions in ten European countries. I introduce the Capability Approach to this issue and argue that short-term childbearing intentions are an indicator of women’s capabilities to start a family or to have additional children. Data from the European Social Survey is used. The analysis reveals that the association between economic uncertainties and short-term childbearing varies by the number of children already born, education and institutional contexts. Being in paid work have a positive impact on childless women’s short-term intentions in some countries, while in other countries, unemployed childless women are those most likely to intend to have a child in the near future. Other aspects of economic uncertainties, namely perceived job and income insecurity, have a negative impact on short-term childbearing intentions, regardless of motherhood status. The analysis also shows that the combination of weaker institutional support for work-family reconciliation, perceived job and income insecurity and low educational skills are associated with lower childbearing intentions, but the pattern across the ten countries varies by motherhood status, and is slightly more evident for childless women. This study has shown the importance of embedding individual decision processes in a broader social societal context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2013
Keyword
childbearing intentions, capability approach, economic uncertainties, reconciliation policies
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79495 (URN)10.1080/14616696.2013.798018 (DOI)000329983200002 ()
Available from: 2012-09-20 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
2. Family-friendly Working Conditions and Childbearing: A Capability Approach to Fertility Behaviour among Young Adult Women in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Family-friendly Working Conditions and Childbearing: A Capability Approach to Fertility Behaviour among Young Adult Women in Sweden
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Previous studies have shown that unfavourable working conditions, in terms of overtime, unsocial and inflexible working, etc., influence men’s and women’s work–family conflict. The relationship between working conditions and childbearing has rarely been studied, however. This study addresses the impact of family-friendly working conditions and individual resources on young adult women’s capability to have children in Sweden, and whether these factors have different impact on childless women’s and mothers’ further childbearing behaviour. The conceptual framework is inspired by Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach, which helps to advance our understanding of how institutional context, workplace practices and individual life situation shape women’s propensity to have children. Analysis of data extracted from the Swedish panel survey YAPS shows that especially the transition to the second child is associated with women’s family-friendly working conditions, while the partner’s family-friendly working conditions is associated with the transition to both first and second births. The analysis also reveals that family-friendly working conditions are most salient for the less educated and low income childless women’s transition to motherhood, and for low educated mothers’ second birth.

Keyword
capability approach, childbearing, family-friendly work, Sweden, working conditions
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociological Demography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79496 (URN)
Available from: 2012-09-20 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2012-09-20Bibliographically approved
3. Does Gender Matter? Policies, norms and the gender gap in work-to-home and home-to-work conflict across Europe.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Does Gender Matter? Policies, norms and the gender gap in work-to-home and home-to-work conflict across Europe.
2014 (English)In: Community, Work and Family, ISSN 1366-8803, E-ISSN 1469-3615, 1-21 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines gender differences in work-to-home conflict (WHC) and home-to-work conflict (HWC) in 10 European countries and considers to what extent such differences can be linked to the institutional/societal context. This study combines the conventional demand-resource approach and an institutional framework on work–family reconciliation policies and gender norms by using data from the European Social Survey. The analyses reveal that work and home demands affect men’s and women’s perceived conflict somewhat differently, and that the two conflict dimensions are gender asymmetrical and linked to patterns that result from men’s and women’s traditional home and work spheres. This cross-country comparative analysis shows greater gender gap in perceived conflict in countries with weaker policy support for work–family reconciliation and more traditional gender norms suggesting that individuals’ perceptions of WHC and HWC are institutionally embedded.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2014
Keyword
work–home conflict, work–life balance, family policies, gender norms, Europe
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79497 (URN)10.1080/13668803.2014.899486 (DOI)
Available from: 2012-09-20 Created: 2012-09-04 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
4. Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work–Life Balance: A Comparison of Sweden and Hungary
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Agency and Capabilities to Achieve a Work–Life Balance: A Comparison of Sweden and Hungary
2011 (English)In: Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society, ISSN 1072-4745, E-ISSN 1468-2893, Vol. 18, no 2, 168-198 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study develops a conceptual framework with a capabilities and agency approach for analyzing work–life balance (WLB) applied in two societies (Hungary and Sweden), which have different working time regimes, levels of precarious employment, and gender equality discourses and norms. Inspired by Amartya Sen, we present a model illustrating how agency freedom for WLB depends on multiple resources at the individual, work organizational, institutional, and normative/societal levels. Using a unique qualitative survey conducted in two cities, Budapest and Stockholm, we analyze how mothers and fathers subjectively experience the tensions between family and work demands, and their possibilities for alternative choices (agency freedom). We find similarities in these tensions involving time pressure and time poverty, cutting across gender and education. Our Hungarian parents, nevertheless, experience greater agency inequalities for WLB, which reflect weaker institutional resources (conversion factors) as well as cultural/societal norms that act as constraints for WLB claims in the workplace and household. Our study reveals that Swedish parents, both men and women, express a strong sense of entitlement to exercise rights to care.

Keyword
Capability approach, work-life balance
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-66009 (URN)10.1093/sp/jxr007 (DOI)000291664300002 ()
Available from: 2011-12-16 Created: 2011-12-16 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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