The Role of Job Quality for Female Labour Market Attachment after Childbirth

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Agnieszka Piasna, European Trade Union Institute, Brussels, Belgium
Anke Plagnol, City University London, London, United Kingdom
The paper examines how job quality affects female labour market attachment, across life stages and welfare regimes in Europe. The objective is to investigate the direct effect of job quality on women’s labour market attachment after childbirth, and how job quality indirectly affects women’s labour market decisions by impacting their job satisfaction. Moreover, a comparative approach is adopted to explore the societal- and institutional-level factors that influence the relationship between labour market attachment and job quality.

Obtaining a better understanding of the factors influencing women’s labour market attachment is crucial for policy discussions aimed at increasing women’s employment rates. While some researchers claim that women are able to follow their preferences in choosing between paid employment and leaving employment to care for their children, other research found that women’s employment decisions after childbirth are limited by individual-level factors, such as the need to contribute to the household’s income, and by institutional factors, such as the lack of affordable child care. However, the impact of job satisfaction and job quality on women’s employment decisions has been under-researched and there is little empirical evidence on the association between job quality and female employment participation.

The European Working Conditions Survey (2010) is used in the analysis, covering workers from the EU27 countries. Through the use of hierarchical linear models, with individuals nested within countries, the analysis allows to explore in detail cross-national differences in female employment patterns.

The findings provide support for the positive role of job quality in female labour market participation, even though the cross-sectional nature of the data does not allow discriminating between two possible explanations for this—that holding a better quality job increases the likelihood of transition to first maternity, or rather increases chances of a return to work after childbirth. Moreover, international comparisons point to persistence of cross-country differences in social and institutional barriers for integration of family and work.