Does Family Policy Influence Women’s Employment?

Emanuele Ferragina
Political Studies Review
  • Emanuele Ferragina, Political Studies Reviews, 2017Emanuele Ferragina, Political Studies Reviews, 2017

Does Family Policy Influence Women’s Employment?:

Reviewing the Evidence in the Field

Political Studies Reviews

First Published November 10, 2017

Read the Full article on SAGE Journals website


Emanuele Ferragina (OSC - LIEPP)During the past two decades, the debate over the relation between family policy and women’s employment in high-income countries has grown in prominence. Nevertheless, the evidence proposed in different disciplines – sociology, politics, economics and demography – remains scattered and fragmented.

This article addresses this gap, discussing whether family policy regimes are converging and how different policies influence women’s employment outcomes in high-income countries.

The main findings can be summarized as follows: family policy regimes (‘Primary Caregiver Strategy’, ‘Choice Strategy’, ‘Primary Earner Strategy’, ‘Earning Carer Strategy’, ‘Mediterranean Model’) continues to shape women’s employment outcomes despite some process of convergence towards the Earning Carer Strategy; the shortage of childcare and the absence of maternal leave curtail women’s employment; long parental leave seems to put a brake to women’s employment; unconditional child benefits and joint couple’s taxation negatively influence women’s employment but support horizontal redistribution; policies and collective attitudes interact, influencing women’s behaviour in the labour market; and the effect of policies is moderated/magnified by individual socioeconomic characteristics, that is, skills, class, education, income, ethnicity and marital status.

The article concludes by suggesting avenues for future research.

Citation de l'auteurThe existence of five regimes still contributes to determine women’s employment outcomes. Hence, whether all family policy models would progressively converge towards the Earning Carer Strategy remains an open question. As for the empirical test of Becker’s original hypotheses, it appears that the shortage of childcare and the absence of maternal leave curtail maternal employment. In addition, long parental leaves seem to put a brake on women’s employment, and unconditional child benefits and joint couple’s taxation negatively influence women’s employment, but support horizontal redistribution and fertility. Finally, women’s behaviour in the labour market is conditioned by the interaction between policy and cultural variables.

This work was supported by the LIEPP.