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Tine Kil, Karel Neels and Jorik Vergauwen

Over the last 50 years the gendered division of paid work in European households has become more equal. This evolution only partly entailed a more equal distribution of unpaid work. This chapter aims to examine how gender inequality in the division of housework varies across different stages of the life course and across different cultural and institutional contexts. Using data from the fifth round (2010) of the European Social Survey a sample of 24 045 heterosexual couples from 24 different countries was selected. Using multilevel models the authors examined how the distribution of domestic work over the life course is affected by: (1) individual-level and household-level characteristics such as time availability, relative resources and gender ideology; (2) the cultural and institutional context; and (3) whether cross-level interactions play a role. Results show that a progressive gender ideology has a relatively small positive influence on gender equality for couples with young children. But this effect depends on the societal context as cross-level interactions suggest that parents succeed better in implementing their progressive ideas in a country with a progressive national gender culture and more full-time childcare. Hence, contextual variables play a role in reducing traditional gender roles following the birth of a child.

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David De Wachter, Karel Neels, Jonas Wood and Jorik Vergauwen

Maternal employment rates vary considerably among countries and this variation hides important educational differentials both in labour market attachment and selection into full-time and part-time employment. This chapter investigates the educational gradient of maternal employment patterns in 11 European countries. It further considers the association with formal and informal childcare. The authors use micro-data from the first round of the Generations and Gender Survey, supplemented with macro-data from EU-SILC. The analysis makes use of multilevel multinomial logit models. The results show that more highly educated women less often leave the labour force after childbirth, predominantly remaining employed full-time. Low-educated women more often leave the labour force after childbirth and more frequently work part-time. The main exceptions are Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, where mothers more often work part-time, particularly among highly educated groups. Full-time employment is highest among mothers living in countries with strong and weak public support for families with children. However, in countries with weak support, period fertility is quite low, suggesting high levels of work–family conflict. Childcare is positively associated with female employment and the association is more articulated for formal than for informal childcare. In sum, childbirth is strongly associated with female employment, but the magnitude and sign of the association differs for full-time and part-time work, interacts with education and varies between countries. This pattern is likely to show increasing diversity given that the recent economic downturn has reduced public spending on family policies and raised economic insecurities, particularly among vulnerable socio-economic groups.