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Class differences in the work schedules and daily time pressures of dual- earner parents in Britain Colette Fagan, Kath Ray, Linda McDowell, Diane Perrons.

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Presentation on theme: "Class differences in the work schedules and daily time pressures of dual- earner parents in Britain Colette Fagan, Kath Ray, Linda McDowell, Diane Perrons."— Presentation transcript:

1 Class differences in the work schedules and daily time pressures of dual- earner parents in Britain Colette Fagan, Kath Ray, Linda McDowell, Diane Perrons and Kevin Ward Women and Employment Survey 25 th anniversary conference, London, December 2005 ESRC award Living and labouring in London and Manchester (R ) Fagan and Ward - University of Manchester, Ray – Policy Studies Institute, McDowell – University of Oxford, Perrons – LSE

2 Structure of presentation Introduction W&ES exposed major cohort change - emergence of more continuous labour market participation of women; pivotal role of part-time work in this trend Subsequent expansion of work-family policies in UK; particularly under Labour since 1997 Paper focus - work patterns of mothers in dual-earner couples with children of pre-school or primary school age Qualitative interview material from an ESRC-funded project See handout for details of research design & fieldwork Overview – trends in womens employment and the economic & policy context Womens employment – contours of difference Class-based pathways of work-family reconciliation – 4 critical cases Conclusions

3 Overview – trends in womens employment and the economic & policy context Growing prevalence of dual-earner patterns for couples in most industrialised countries UK distinctive working time regime in cross-national comparisons (Fagan 1996 and ff) Large proportion of full-timers work very long hours (men + women); many want shorter hours Long hours in many jobs is incompatible with parenting Relatively high employment rate for women (dual-employed couples established practice) Part-time employment is dominant behaviour for mothers Limited childcare until recently – reinforced cultural norm of PT maternal employment Part-time penalty (wages, career advancement) more pronounced in UK in contrast to better practice models (e.g. Sweden, NL) Large proportion of part-timers in short hour jobs want longer PT/short FT hours Income inequality level relatively high – close to the US neo-liberal model than to much of North/West Europe

4 Overview …/continued Trends in UK (direction of change similar across Europe) Employment rate & Full-time employment rate rising for all mothers Couple households: increased % are dual earners (FT/FT) or modified male breadwinners (MFT/FPT) Increased % of households with children are lone parents Childcare and domestic work is still womens work Gershunys lagged adaptation thesis Social attitudes shift: in favour of maternal employment & more active involvement of men in domestic work BUT stay-at-home or part-time model for women is still favoured more than full-time

5 Overview - The UK economic and policy context Recent expansion of work-family policies to encourage maternal employment Adult-worker model (Lewis) - most explicit in welfare to work focus for lone parents… National Childcare strategy – increased pre-school childcare places, some out-of-school provision Extension of statutory leave entitlements Statutory right for parents to request flexible hours (2003) Voluntarist emphasis in policy – persuading employers about the business case Little emphasis on curtailing the practice of long working hours – e.g.WTD opt-out Economic trends Polarisation of wages and living standards in UK 1970s-1990s has slowed but not reversed Employment restructuring rising levels of work intensity + (perceived) insecurity New economy articulation of high status, (usually well paid) pressured IT/knowledge jobs serviced by workers in poor quality jobs polarisation with expansion in jobs at both top and bottom ends Continued pressure of housing costs (including costly houses near good schools for middle- classes)

6 Womens employment – contours of difference Variety of differences emphasised in research on womens employment National institutions – international differences in work-time options and practices for matched groups of women Education better careers and earnings; increased propensity to pursue continuous full- time career (Dex & Joshi, McRae) Occupational/ organisational career structures (Crompton) Attitudes & Orientations (Hakim, Duncan & Edwards, Scott, Rose, Dex) Dual FT and FT/PT couples – a common device for capturing effect of many of these differences Powerful tool but limits - neglects differences in work-time conditions between full-timers and between part-timers Volume of hours, schedules, access to work-family reconciliation policy options Part-time teacher versus part-time sales work Mens full-time work conditions also neglected Quantitative analysis of class-based differences of couples joint schedules (Warren) Employment schedule (working hours, flexibility, location, commute) is key element of debates about work-family reconciliation + WLB Pivotal role of volume of working hours in peoples sense of WLB; autonomy only provides partial redress (Burchell and Fagan, OECD); working time preferences across Europe are to exit/avoid extremes of very short PT & long FT hours (Fagan, Lee)

7 Class-based pathways of work-family reconciliation – 4 critical cases Dual earner focus – 4 critical cases as a lens for focussing on class-based differences in how women carve a pathway through pregnancy and the early years of motherhood Not exhaustive of all class situations and nuances Dual manual Clerical women Public sector professional/managerial women Private sector professional/managerial women Dimensions discussed Recent work history – maternity leave and employment following birth Current work-time patterns (volume, schedule) of mother Fathering – work-time and domestic involvement Income Childcare arrangements Mothers work-life balance assessment and preferences

8 Conclusions Persistent gender division of labour & class inequalities in work-family arrangements Work schedules on offer in labour market are segmented by class, also public/private and within private (firm size, industry) FT/FT vs FT/PT inadequate to capture and interpret couples arrangements (volume, schedule) Class-based analysis/typology advocated Developed in context – income, workplace options, neighbourhood resources Different time pressures; different desires to improve their WLB Discussion/reflection Other dimensions than work-time pertinent to WLB conceptualisation Income, childrens schedules, gender division of domestic labour School age childrens activities add to time/coordination pressures Source of stress for mothers, but also wanted to let their children have these opportunities Continued role of grandparents & other informal childcare as buttress to formal childcare Government policy After-school expansion has been more uneven and difficult to put in place – yet the problems of coordination more acute as children grow up Working hours reduction is still neglected – right to request is likely to remain inadequate without stronger institutional support for implementation (contrast to NL case)

9 Research design and fieldwork End 2002/3: semi-structured interviews with parents with at least one child under 10 years old in 139 households (60-90 minutes on average) Focus was couple households where at least one person was employed Nearly all interviews were with mothers Recruited via childcare centres, playgroups and schools The fieldwork took place in two cities – London and Manchester In each city parents were recruited through their residence in 3 different areas characterised by different socio-economic scores Study intentionally skewed to couple households that include formal pre- school childcare and/or schools in urban settings

10 After-school activities in a dual full-time high income household She [the childminder] picks them up at 3.15 every day (…). Brings them back here. Gives them their tea, and we arrive between 6 and That's the plan. Mondays she only does until 5.30 because it's swimming. So J* or I take them swimming. (..) Tuesdays she picks them up at 3.45 because they have choir after school. Wednesday she picks them up at normal time 3.15, but that's going to be later because they're going to do drama club at school. And then they get picked up by a friend of mine who takes them to brownies at 6.00 and then I pick them up at 7.30 so that's quite useful because I can stay at work a bit later then. Then Thursday she picks them up at 3.15, and a friend of mine picks them up at 5.30 and takes them to a little dance class down the road… And I pick them up at So that again works well, if she does one way and I do the other, so that's a 3.15 pick up and 6.30 they come home. …What I wanted was a childminder who would come here. Because they'd got to an age where, they had all these activities they wanted to do. And they also, they wanted to come home really, and you know, do a bit of homework, do a bit of piano practice, they have piano on a Friday. But she comes here, the piano teacher comes here. I vowed I would never be one of these mothers where the children do all these things, but it just sort of happened and, I hope we'll be able to pare them down a bit. But at the moment they do everything so.

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