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Public policies towards employment of parents and social inclusion (PEPSI)

Research project TA/00/12 (Research action TA)

Persons :

Description :

Women's growing labour market participation, especially among those with children, has been one of the most important economic and social phenomena of the last half century, even though great variety persists in the level of female employment across countries (OECD, 2002). The female population thus continues to be of considerable weight to realise the European Council wish to move contemporary European societies towards full-employment. At the Lisbon summit (March 2000), the EC stated that Member States should set quantitative targets for higher employment rates in line with EU targets (70% for total employment and 60% for women's employment), to be reached by the year 2010.

To safeguard women's employment not just in quantitative but also in qualitative terms a better understanding of the way in which they accumulate household, family and professional charges is needed. Several dimensions need to be taken into account:

1. Safeguard women's employment continuity around childbirth as an important factor to secure their career advancement and earning prospects;
2. Increase men's involvement not just in care-related but also in domestic work both at the household level and in professional terms (externalisation of household tasks);
3. Avoid a situation where women’s improved employment continuity translates into accentuated professional segregation among women (their concentration in low-quality, low-paid and poorly protected jobs in care work) as a result of an increased but unequal externalisation of household tasks.

The purpose of this project is to study the effect of young children on labour market participation and employment patterns of parents - both mothers and fathers - and their implication in terms of employment and social policies, intra-household time allocation and externalisation of care and domestic work thereby creating new labour market challenges. We intend to analyse the relative position of Belgium within the EU but also with respect to other OECD countries in order to identify good practices that help formulate policy recommendations for decision makers of all types at the national level. We will be cautious to tackle three main dimensions in our research: (i) gender equality (how policies are designed to help both parents to evolve in quality employment); (ii) labour market integration (how policies are designed to help low-qualified parents, and other excluded populations to integrate the labour market as well as new instruments to fight grey employment in the care sector); (iii) social inclusion (the extent to which child care policies and other instruments are designed to guarantee equal access and use of care provision).

Three main parts are to be considered in the project. We will first analyse the influence of young children on employment continuity of mothers and fathers (participation, working hours, wage and segregation), this in relation with intra-household time allocation, using microeconometric methods. Then, we will confront these effects with self-constructed exhaustive indicators of child-related policies (parental and maternity leave, direct financial support and private care support, public childcare organisation) in order to identify - both quantitatively and qualitatively - settings that are supportive of dual-earner families, with a deeper analysis of the child care sector as the third part (type of jobs, inequality and heterogeneity in the access and use of both private and public provision, etc.). Available data bases that are used and confronted are among others Panel Survey of Belgian Households and European Community Household Panel, Labour Force Survey, European Structure of Earning Survey, European Social Survey, MISSOC, Time-Budget Survey, most of them providing international harmonised data, along with administrative and legislative sources.

The project is innovative in many aspects such as the study of employment patterns of both parents, not just mothers as in previous studies; the development of extended typologies of family-friendliness of countries' child policies, in and outside Europe, including all relevant fields of work-related child policies; the use of a wide range of data sets, enlarging the usual focus on financial and economic rational aspects with the inclusion of social attitudes and expectations, institutional environment, etc.; the incorporation of time allocation analysis; a deeper analysis of the differential use and access of childcare facilities to show the non-neutrality of childcare provision with regard to social differences in parents' participation behaviour.
We will be cautious to involve as many actors as possible through the creation of a website with all relevant information on the topic and working papers, the participation in conferences and the organisation of seminars and a final conference to confront our final results with other research.

Documentation :

Het beleid ter bevordering van de werkzaamheid van ouders en sociale insluiting (PEPSI) : synthese    Brussel : Federaal Wetenschapsbeleid, 2011 (SP2425)
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Public policies towards employment of parents and social inclusion (PEPSI) : summary    Brussels : Federal Science Policy, 2011 (SP2426)
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Politiques publiques pour promouvoir l'emploi des parents et l'inclusion sociale  Meulders, Danièle - Humblet, Perrine - Maron , Leila ... et al  Gent : Academia Press, 2010 (PB6260)
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Politiques publiques pour promouvoir l'emploi des parents et l'inclusion sociale: rapport final avec annexes / eindrapport met bijlagen     (SP2235)
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Politiques publiques pour promouvoir l'emploi des parents et l'inclusion sociale (PEPSI) : synthèse    Bruxelles : Politique scientifique fédérale, 2011 (SP2424)
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