The labour market intention and behaviour of stay-at-home mothers in Europe and Australia

Anne H. Gauthier, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Tom Emery, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)
Alzbeta E. Bartova, University of Edinburgh

The labour force participation of mothers has increased in all European countries in recent decades, approaching or even surpassing the target set as part of the European Union’s Lisbon Strategy. Yet, obstacles to the combination of work and family responsibilities still persist resulting in major gender inequalities. In this paper, we examine the case of stay-at-home mothers and more specifically their intention to join (or not) the labour market in the foreseeable future, and their actual realization of these intentions three years later. In doing so, our aim is to identify the individual- and country-level characteristics most strongly associated with the intention of stay-at-home mothers to remain temporary or more permanently out of the labour force, as well as the factors that facilitate or prevent mothers from realizing these intentions. We do so using data from the Generations and Gender Survey. We use data from wave 1 for twelve countries for mothers’ labour market intention, and wave 2 data for a smaller set of countries to study their realisation. Preliminary results reveal that about half of the stay-at-home mothers said that they were intending to take up a job within the next three years but with very large within- and between-country differences. In particular, stay-at-home mothers in Eastern and Central Europe appear to be more likely to intend to return to work within a three-year period than their counterparts in Western Europe thus suggesting the possible role of economic needs and welfare support. The role of these possible determinants is examined further in the paper.

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Presented in Session 51: Labour force participation and family