03 Jan
Family Policy Outcomes - Cover

Proposition 3: People don’t just act out of interest; they also need opportunities

People don’t just act out of interest; they also need opportunities.

This third proposition refers to one of the key theoretical contributions of my dissertation, tested in Chapter 4. A lot of research on (family) policy outcomes only focus on the characteristics of policy. In my case, my hypotheses in Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of my dissertation were derived from the assumption that policies provide opportunities.

In Chapter 4 of my dissertation I argue that opportunities for employment will only be effective for those (women) with an interest in employment. In other words, the outcomes of opportunities are dependent on the interests of the actors.

From this I derived the hypothesis that reconciliation policies are more effective among higher educated women. This hypothesis was supported by the empirical analyses. The hypothesis that financial support policies were more effective among lower educated women, however, had to be rejected, although it was shown that financial support policies suppress the employment of mothers of all educational levels.

The summary of the Chapter reads:

In Chapter 2 we found that the size of the motherhood-employment gap was reduced by reconciliation policies and increased by financial support policies for families. In this Chapter, we answered the question of to what extent the outcomes of reconciliation policies and financial support policies differ between more and less educated mothers. Thus, we challenged the theoretical assumption held in Chapters 2 and 3 that all mothers are equally affected by family policies. Our data were obtained from the ‘Comparative Motherhood-Employment Gap Trend File’, combined with country-level data from the Comparative Maternity, Parental, and Childcare Database (Gauthier & Bortnik, 2001). The data covered 17 OECD countries, the period from 1980 to 1999, and 116,874 observations on individual women living in partnered households. The data were analysed using multilevel logistic regression. We found that paid leave – a reconciliation policy – reduces the motherhood-employment gap more strongly among more educated women than among the less educated.

This is a series on the 10 propositions that are part of my PhD dissertation. These propositions are a Dutch tradition to highlight key findings of a dissertation and some additional insights by the author. My dissertation is titled “Family Policy Outcomes: Combining Institutional and Demographic Explanations of Women’s Employment and Earnings Inequality in OECD countries, 1975-2005″ and I will defend my dissertation on January 10 2014. So, this series is also a count down. Find out more about my dissertation.