Women’s employment increased dramatically during recent decades. Nevertheless, women’s employment falls behind that of men. One key explanation for that discrepancy is that mothers are less likely to be employed than women without children. In a recent publication in the Journal of Marriage and Family, it was shown that government policies can have a substantial impact on the degree to which women combine motherhood with employment.
This publication was authored by Nieuwenhuis (that’s me), Need, and Van der Kolk, and is titled “Institutional and Demographic Explanations of Women’s Employment in 18 OECD Countries, 1975 – 1999″. We compared 18 OECD countries, covering the period from 1975 to 1999, to study the degree to which women combined motherhood with employment. In most countries the degree to which women combined motherhood with employment increased between 1975 and 1999, such as, for instance, in the Netherlands. In Denmark no trend was observed, but the difference in employment between mothers and women without children was very small throughout the complete period studied. In (the former) West Germany and Portugal the difference in labour force participation between mothers and women without children was observed to increase.
The study further shows that government policies can partly explain the differences between countries and trends within countries in the degree to which mothers are employed. Extensive reconciliation policies facilitate combining motherhood with employment, thereby increasing the participation of mothers on the labour market. On the other hand, policies aimed at supporting families with children financially, reduce the employment of mothers.
The Journal of Marriage and Family published this study in their June number. For those who have access to this journal, it is available online (link).
Nieuwenhuis, Rense, Need, Ariana, & Van der Kolk, Henk (2012). Institutional and Demographic Explanations
of Women’s Employment in 18 OECD Countries, 1975 – 1999 Journal of Marriage and Family, 74 (3), 614-630 : 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2012.00965.x