A European Perspective
Edited by Dominique Anxo, Gerhard Bosch and Jill Rubery
Chapter 5: Transitions in Female and Male Life Course: Changes and Continuities in Austria
5. Transitions in female and male life course: changes and continuities in Austria Ingrid Mairhuber INTRODUCTION Austria’s ‘conservative welfare state’ (Esping Andersen 1990) traditionally provided a relatively strong system of intergenerational support and protection for employed (male) persons and their families across their life course, linked to their occupational status. For decades men easily found stable jobs and moved on to a career and independent living, although not necessarily in the professions they were trained for. At the height of the postwar expansion even unskilled male workers were able to find relatively decent jobs although another characteristic of the Austrian employment model was strong segregation between industrial sectors in the level of wages and employment conditions. In addition, Austria traditionally was a country with low female labour market participation. Young women often left the labour market after marriage or at least after the first childbirth. Thus, women were traditionally highly dependent on the direct and indirect support of their spouses or partners – via derived rights in the social security system, especially with regard to health insurance and pension benefits (Mairhuber 2000). The gender specific division of labour or the male breadwinner and female carer model was endorsed both by the conservative welfare state (for example, by a generous family allowance system, social-security protection derived from marriage and inadequate childcare facilities) and by trade unions, who long ignored the gender pay gap. Full employment for men and protecting male occupational status were among the primary objectives of Austria’s socioeconomic model. The...
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