The Public-Private Mix in Work-Family Reconciliation in Austria, Denmark, Italy, and Britain

Friday, June 24, 2016: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
832 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Tobias Wiss, Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria
Bent Greve, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark
This paper focuses on the interplay between public and occupational welfare and their contribution to the reconciliation of work and family life in countries belonging to different forms of familialism (Austria, Denmark, Italy and Great Britain). So far, the literature has mainly been analysing public policies without considering firm-level activities. However, for a comprehensive understanding of family policy, we have to consider both public and occupational policies, because in some countries the employers (together with trade unions) complement or even substitute (lacking) public efforts. A historical core distinction has been between explicit or implicit family policy, depending on whether policies address families directly (e.g. childcare) or indirectly (e.g. flexible working time arrangements). Many of the occupational policies have an implicit impact on family life, but nevertheless often they are – in addition to explicit and public policies – essential to facilitate the combination of work and family life. Moreover, we lack knowledge about whether high levels of public family policies crowd out firm-level activities (and vice versa) or whether they stimulate each other (crowding in).

Based on secondary literature and survey data, the paper found that low to medium levels of public family policy do not encourage firm activities with regard to work/family reconciliation in Austria and Italy. In contrast, Denmark is an example of crowding in with high levels of both public and occupational family policy and the British public and firm activities seem to supplement each other (mixed responsibility).