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Reconciliation of work and family life

Modified on 2013/05/16 14:08 by Haoyi Chen Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Work
From gender issues to gender statistics on work-family balance: illustrative examples

Policy-relevant questions Data needed Sources of data
Do women and men spend the same amount of time in caring for children? Is the total time spent on housework the same for women and for men? Time use by type of activity within and outside the SNA production boundary by sex and detailed activity Time use surveys Time use module in household surveys such as LFS (Labour Force Surveys) or living standard surveys
Is it the man or the woman who is working part-time or not at all when couples’ children are young? Employment status by sex and number of hours worked for both partners, by number of children below a certain age LFS, living standard surveys or other multi-purpose survey
What are the benefits provided for pregnant women? If granted, what is the length of paternity leave and what are the related benefits? Qualitative information Legislative and administrative sources
Are affordable child care services available? Subjective assessment of availability of affordable formal child care services in the community

Enrolment in pre-primary education
Community surveys
Household surveys

School administrative sources

  • + Gender issues
    • Women and men have different family constraints in participating on the labour market. Women tend to withdraw temporary from the labour force and to seek short hours or other flexible working arrangements during childbearing and first years of life of their children. In some countries, women’s participation in the labour market is subject to approval from male members of their family. In addition, women’s hiring in certain jobs is sometimes denied on the basis of their pregnancy or maternity role (ILO, 2011). Furthermore, although many countries have policies on employment protection during pregnancy, childbirth and maternity, women working in atypical forms of work are usually not covered. Maternity leave is widely granted across countries but often inadequate in terms of length and pay. The proportion of countries meeting ILO standards related to maternity benefits is much lower in less developed regions compared to developed regions. Paternity leave has become more common only recently and only in some countries from more developed regions.

      Balancing work and family is particularly challenging for employed parents with young children. Child care services may not be available or may be expensive. When family-friendly working arrangements such as flexible hours, part-time work, job-sharing and work from home are not available, one member of the couple, usually the woman, may be forced to stay out of employment.

      Women are the primary caretakers of the family (United Nations, 2010). Caring for children and other dependent household members, preparing meals, cleaning or repairing are disproportionately beared by women. In many countries, more than half of women’s total work time is spent on unpaid domestic work. When time used for paid employment and unpaid domestic work is summed up, women work longer hours than men. Women’s increased participation in paid employment has not been accompanied by an increase in men’s participation in unpaid domestic work. However, the sharing of domestic tasks between the sexes is becoming more equitable in some countries in the most developed regions (United Nations, 2010).

  • + Data needed
    • Time use by type of activity within and outside the SNA production boundary, by detailed activity, sex, age and employment status.

      Total employment and employment in flexible working arrangements such as flexible hours, part-time work, job-sharing and work from home by sex and age, further disaggregated by individual and household characteristics

      Availability of formal childcare services

      Enrolment in pre-primary education

      Qualitative information on length and related benefits of maternity and paternity leave.

  • + Examples of indicators derived from gender statistics on work-family balance:
    • Average number of hours spent on unpaid domestic work by sex

      Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined (total work burden) by sex

      Employment rate of persons aged 25-49 with a child under age 3 living in a household and with no children living in the household, by sex

      Proportion of couples with children less than 3 years old where the woman is not working while the man is working full time

      Proportion of employed working part-time, by sex

      Enrolment in pre-primary education

  • + Sources of data
    • Time use surveys provide data on time-use allocation for all activities, including for paid and unpaid work, along with contextual information necessary to distinguish between paid and various types of unpaid activities, and background information at individual and household levels. These data are input for (a) identification of time-use patterns; (b) measuring and valuing unpaid domestic and volunteer work; (c) improving estimates of standard labour-force statistics, including time spent on informal sector activities and unpaid productive activities (United Nations, 2005).

      Modules on time use may be attached to labour force surveys, living conditions surveys or other multi-purpose household surveys. Most often these modules involve a set of questions targeted to some activities of concern, for example, time allocated to a specific list of unpaid work activities (such as water collection); or time allocated to a specific list of unpaid domestic work (such as caring for ill persons; cooking and preparing meals; doing small house repairs).

      Labour force surveys or multi-purpose surveys are an important source of statistics on work-family balance because they collect at the same time information related to the type of job a person has with information related to that person’s family and household. In terms of job, in addition to employment and status in employment, important information refer to number of hours worked, schedule of work and place of work. Individual and household-related characteristics of interest are: marital status, employment status of the partner, presence in the household of pre-school children or other dependants in need for care, availability of childcare services.

  • + Conceptual and measurement issues
    • Time use statistics should allow for measurement of unpaid housework for women and for men. In that regard, there should be a distinction between (a) work activities that are within the general production boundary of the System of National Accounts (SNA) but beyond the operational production boundary of the SNA, and therefore not counted within the labour force – such as cleaning, maintaining and repairing, preparing food, care for children and for older people; (b) work activities within the operational productive boundary of SNA but not remunerated – such as the production of goods for own final use, including growing or gathering field crops, or fetching water and firewood; (c) work activities within the boundary of SNA and paid – such as formal employment in producing goods and services that are supplied to other units. The separation between these types of activities is possible only when additional contextual information is collected in the time use surveys. This information refers to whether the activities were paid or not paid and for whom the work was performed (United Nations, 2005).

      Specific types of activities, often related to unpaid work and often performed by women, can be identified only when simultaneous activities are all recorded. When estimates of time-use are based only on primary activities, many activities such as caring for children, ill, or older persons for example, are clearly underestimated. These “missing” activities would typically be reported as secondary or simultaneous activities.

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