Exploring Capabilities in Work-Family Balance: New Challenges for Reconciliation Policies

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Building - Room 356 (University of Glasgow)
Edna Costa , Department of Political Studies, New University of Lisbon
The purpose of this paper is to explore how gender inequalities in work-family balance (WFB) can be explained over time and across countries. It argues that the participation of women and men in paid work and in caring responsibilities is influenced by multi-dimensional set of factors, bringing the institutional dimension to the fore. In doing so it addresses one of the most relevant problems of modern democracies, that of the persistence of inequalities in a context of equal rights.
The paper conceptualizes strategies for WFB, and the gendered variation it entails, within a capabilities based approach, thus attempting to understand the extent to which unconstrained choice is equally available for women and men. It is therefore guided by one main theoretical principle, that caring and employment are equally valuable, which is particularly relevant from a public policy perspective.
Accordingly, it undertakes a comparative analysis of three reconciliation policies - parental leave, childcare services and tax-benefit policies – in South European (SE) countries from the early nineties to 2012. It focuses on two main criteria: whether they enable formal and informal care work (rewarding it accordingly) and paid work, ensuring the access of women to quality jobs.
The empirical analysis combines comparative data from international surveys with country-specific secondary literature. By narrowing the scope of analysis to the SE institutional context, the study elucidates country-specific patterns of gender inequalities in WFB and the policy rationales which underpin them, which large-scale studies have so far overlooked.
  • paper CES 2017_Edna Costa.pdf (394.9 kB)