Europe is an interesting case as European countries experienced very different trajectories regarding these changes. North-Western European countries saw a substantial increase in female labour force participation: women's work patterns changed (and still do) as women do not tend to withdraw anymore from the labour market after marriage or motherhood but remain employed until retirement. While in the Nordic countries some institutional reforms started to decrease women's burdens, elsewhere, including in Southern Europe, where female labour force participation started to increase later, i.e., in the 1990s, women's additional commitment to work was not complemented with the development of the necessary structures to support family-related work. At the same time Central-Eastern European post-socialist countries experienced a substantial decline in female labour force participation throughout the 1990s because of the economic restructuring from state-socialist full-employment to market economies. This transition also brought a rise in work pressure and cuts in welfare services, leaving more burden of care on the families.
Although there is much research on work-life conflict, we still know very little about how micro- and macro-level variables influence work-life conflict across and within European countries. Comparative research that attempts to explain country-differences in work-life conflict is still scarce, and the existing studies show puzzling results, when for instance high levels of work-family conflict are reported for countries known for generous work-family policies. These suggest that work-life conflict issues should be examined from a broader perspective: socio-cultural and economic factors such as gender norms and national policies might modify or interact with the relationship between working conditions and work-life conflict.
The main aim of this thematic issue is to examine the relationship of gender norms and other socio-cultural factors with the perceived work-life conflicts among men and women across European countries with different welfare regimes.
Michael Ochsner (FORS Lausanne, Switzerland / ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Ivett Szalma (MTA TK—Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary) and Judit Takács (MTA TK—Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungary)
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