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Family policy mattersResponding to family change in Europe$
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Linda Hantrais

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9781861344717

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861344717.001.0001

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The changing family–employment balance

The changing family–employment balance

(p.73) Four The changing family–employment balance
Family policy matters

Linda Hantrais

Policy Press

The closing decades of the twentieth century saw far-reaching changes in the nature of work, patterns of supply and demand for labour, and working hours and conditions, which were closely intertwined with the changes occurring within families. A major shift had taken place away from employment in industry to the service sector. This chapter focuses on the changing relationship between employment, unpaid work, and family life in EU25. First, it reviews the definitions and concepts used by national and international statistical agencies charged with collecting and collating data on various aspects of working life as a basis for policy development and on cross-national comparative analysis of the family–employment relationship. Second, the chapter compares changes in the working life of the population in EU15 member states and the 10 countries that joined the Union in 2004. It determines the relationship between working patterns and family life, considering the possible impact of new waves of membership on the trends observed, and the distortions and bias created by inconsistencies in data-collection methods. Third, the chapter discusses the trends in working patterns in relation to family responsibilities and the sharing of household tasks. As more mothers have entered and returned to the labour force after periods of leave, and when their children grow older, a major issue for public debate across Europe has been the reconciliation of family life and employment and the balance between employment and other activities for both men and women. Finally, the chapter assesses the challenges raised by the changes for political, economic, and civil society policy actors.

Keywords:   family, employment, Europe, working pattern, labour force, population

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