Chapter 3: Work–Family Balance Policies: Comparisons and Issues
3. Work–family balance policies: comparisons and issues There is a range of policy choices that have been made in the ﬁeld of work and family balance. Governments have focused on promoting ﬂexible working, particularly in terms of the hours worked, and on care issues, by enabling parents to care themselves or by ﬁnancing and/or providing childcare services. There is also considerable variation as to how much states have elected to do and what has been left to parents or to employers. The detailed provisions of each policy instrument also matter in terms of how far they enable genuine choice on the part of mothers and fathers to engage in paid and unpaid work and what eﬀects they have on men’s and women’s decisions in this respect. The nature of the policy priorities and policy packages developed in diﬀerent countries depends in large measure on the policy goals. Gender equality has not ﬁgured largely in these outside the Scandinavian countries. Nevertheless, even the existence of work and family balance policies can play an indirect role in legitimising the changes in the balance of paid and unpaid work that men and women aspire to, as well as a direct role in helping them to achieve their goals. This chapter begins by examining the broad diﬀerences between the kind of policy ‘logics’ that exist in diﬀerent countries, and the broad nature of the incentives and disincentives for men and women to work and to care. It then explores...
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