Dynamics and Perspectives
Edited by Peter Ester, Ruud Muffels, Joop Schippers and Ton Wilthagen
12. Diverging Career Paths: Mind Your Step! Amelia Román, Joop Schippers and Leen Heylen 12.1 INTRODUCTION The unremitting process of individualisation – where personal choice prevails in the organisation of life course biographies – creates a diversification of life course patterns in European societies (Du Bois-Reymond, 1998; Giddens, 1991). Paid labour takes a central but no longer automatically predominant position within these life course patterns. The more traditional breadwinner’s career and the partner’s role of housewife of previous generations, is losing ground as an increasing number of women enter and remain active participants in the labour market. This creates new challenges for combining work with other important life domains such as care, training and leisure. This is particularly true during the period in the life course when work (through career building) and home (in raising a family) are experienced as conflicting demands in households resulting in a time squeeze (Groot and Breedveld, 2004). Facilities for combining work and care are increasingly being provided in many countries and we know from research that these play an important role in keeping women active in the labour market. Studies providing insight regarding the long-term consequences of the use of such facilities are however, rather scarce (see among others Vlasblom and Schippers, 2005). Enhancing the labour participation throughout the life course is one of the central building blocks of the European Employment Strategy.1 If Europe can achieve this goal, the negative consequences of dejuvenation (lower birth rates) and the aging baby boom cohort can, for...
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