Country differences in the gendered effect of work-life balance on well-being: the role of legal and policy arrangements

Pearl Dykstra, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Babette Pouwels, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Increasing the number paid working hours, either by increasing labour market participation or by increasing the number of working time of part time workers, is a central policy issue in many European countries. A common view among policy makers is that working more hours is necessary to maintain living standards in the context of ageing societies (Collewet and De Koning, 2011). Whether working more hours influences individual’s well-being, is hotly debated. The present paper focuses on the gendered relationship between work-life balance and individual well-being across Europe. Does paid work increase individual well-being? Are men happier working in full time jobs and women in part time jobs? Does this (gendered) relationship between paid work and well-being vary across European countries? If so, to what extent can this be explained by variations in national level legal arrangements and social policies? Taking a multi-level approach, we use data from the third round of the European Social Survey (ESS) and a unique set of national level legal and policy indicators from the MULTILINKS database (Dykstra, 2011) to examine whether individual and policy arrangements can explain the gendered relationship between work and well-being.

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Presented in Session 85: Regional disparities in policies supporting families

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