I'll Just Stay Home: Housing Configurations and Employment Disparities Among Parents

Friday, April 15, 2016
Assembly C (DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia Center City)
Lindsay Flynn , Luxembourg Income Study
When balancing work and family obligations, parents make decisions that lead to gender disparities in employment rates and hours worked in paid labor. To what extent does housing contribute to gender disparities in employment patterns of mothers and fathers? There is a general consensus that employment patterns are influenced by the availability, affordability and location of housing. There is also a general consensus that, when becoming parents, women experience greater shifts in employment than men. The role of housing in influencing employment disparities between mothers and fathers is not well documented, despite the logical connections between housing, jobs, and kids. This paper examines the variation in work hours among mothers and fathers in Europe and North America, and traces housing-specific configurations that contribute to gendered work patterns.

The paper traces the historic policy choices and land-use regulations that generate mismatches between home and job within and across countries. Greater spatial (or more precisely, time) mismatches make it difficult for both parents to maintain full-time positions and fulfill family obligations. More centrally located housing – potentially alleviating the home-job mismatch – comes with a bigger price tag and prompts additional considerations, including the necessity for dual-earners, and decisions about family size. To the extent that female earners are more likely to be adjusters, employment parity will vary with housing configurations. The connections between housing, jobs, and kids are tested using data from the Luxembourg Income Study (for employment disparities and dwelling characteristics) and various time-use studies (for information on space and time mismatches).