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Gender Divisions and Working Time in the New Economy

Changing Patterns of Work, Care and Public Policy in Europe and North America

Edited by Diane Perrons, Colette Fagan, Linda McDowell, Kath Ray and Kevin Ward

Contemporary societies are characterised by new and more flexible working patterns, new family structures and widening social divisions. This book explores how these macro-level changes affect the micro organisation of daily life, with reference to working patterns and gender divisions in Northern and Western Europe and the United States.
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Chapter 6: Economic Crisis and the Sustainability of the Dual-Earner, Dual-Carer Model

Anita Nyberg


Anita Nyberg INTRODUCTION The preconditions in the long run for the dual-earner, dual-carer model in Sweden are generally considered to be economic growth, balanced public finances and full employment. In the beginning of the 1990s, the Swedish economy failed badly on all three accounts. There was negative economic growth three years in a row, unemployment reached levels unimaginable since the 1930s, and employment was rapidly declining. While only 1991–93 saw negative economic growth, the whole decade can be considered as a period of crisis on the labour market. Even in 2005 unemployment is high, and despite some improvement in the area, employment is considerably lower than in 1990.1 Negative economic growth has meant declining revenues and massive unemployment increased public expenditures, which together led to huge budget deficits. The government was under severe pressure to carry out adjustment measures and although agonizing, allowances were cut and the public sector and public expenditure were reduced (Kautto, 2000; Eklund, 2001, Chapter 17). The combination of labour market restructuring and welfare state retrenchment suggests that policy support for the dual-earner, dual-carer model could face heightened scrutiny. We might well see a fading interest in policies that further women’s, and especially mothers’, integration into the labour market. Instead women might increasingly be defined through motherhood and caring, and men through employment and wages, which means a return to more traditional gender relations and a weakening of the dual-earner, dual-carer model. The aim of this chapter is to investigate whether or not a deep...

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