Family regimes

We now describe in greater detail the four types of work-family regimes that are based on the intersection of the welfare provision and division of labour dimensions:

Family Dependence

The family-dependence regime is one in which the dominant gender ideology is that of the male breadwinner. The state in this regime may provide security for working people, but the main responsibility for welfare and for care work is relegated to the family. In other words, women are not encouraged to become economically independent and are not supported by the state for their caring work [Orl01]. As with all typologies, this is an ideal type and no country completely fits this construct. However, of the European countries, Italy and Greece most closely resemble this configuration of societal characteristics and can be seen as representing this regime type. As can be seen in Table 2-2, the level of female employment in these countries is relatively low (approximately 45% of women aged between 15 and 64 are in paid employment compared with more than 70% in Scandinavian countries) and the rate of part-time work is low as well (11% in Greece and 29% in Italy).

Market Dependence

This regime promotes the dual-earner model, according to which women as well as men are encouraged to participate in paid employment. The market-dependence regime is defined by its low level of state intervention (or de-commodification in Esping-Andersen's terms), and only a marginal and highly select minority (the most needy population) is eligible for state support. Because the primary means of achieving economic independence is through market-based work, this regime promotes a dual order stratification system, distinguishing between those who are part of the labour market and those who rely on state support (Esping-Andersen 1990: 27; 1999: 75). Since both parents are expected to take part in economic activity, family tasks such as childcare and housework are often relegated to a third party, arrangements which, typically, are market-based and costly. Consequently, women are highly selected to paid employment, based on their market power. Because gender equality is promoted in the market, those women who are positively selected to the labour market have access to lucrative jobs. They stand a good chance, therefore, of becoming economically independent [Orl01]. As with the previous family regime, this is also an ideal type that does not fully match any specific society. Yet, most Anglo-Saxon countries fit into this cluster, most of all the United States, where the female employment rate is relatively high (two-thirds of women aged between 15 and 64 are employed), and less than 20% of working women hold part-time jobs (see Table 2-2).

Individual Independence

This refers to a work-family regime in which the state takes chief responsibility for the welfare of individuals, and also promotes a dual-earner family model. The state takes a universal approach to social rights and maximises equality by providing generous allowances and protection to all citizens. As in the market-dependence regime, women’s employment is encouraged, although the state rather than the market is responsible for providing childcare substitutes. Sweden and Denmark are proto-typical examples of this regime. They are characterised by high employment rates for women (about 70%) and relatively low rates of part-time employment (about 20%). Publicly funded day-care coverage for young children is also high in these countries.

State Dependence

The state-dependence regime combines a gendered division of labour with extensive rights and protection for mothers. The underlying assumption is that mothers should care for their children, and the state therefore compensates them for their care work [Orl01]. In this case, the state assumes responsibility for the well-being of individuals when the family or the market fails to do so. Policies are directed toward maintaining the traditional family organisation, and the state intervenes by providing benefits to ensure the welfare of individuals. The work-family nexus of countries such as Germany and Belgium closely resembles this ideal-typical regime. As can be seen in Table 2-2, less than 60% of women aged between 15 and 64 in these two countries work for pay and about a third work on a part-time basis.

Table 2-2. Selected indicators of work and family arrangements in countries characterised by different types of regime
% of women (15-64) in employment* % of women working part-time** % of children 0-2 in day care % of children 3-5 in day care Paid maternity leave (weeks)**
Family Dependence
Italy 45.3 29 6.3 95 22
Greece 46.2 11 7.0 48 17
Market Dependence
UK 66.8 40 25.8 60 18
Ireland 58.0 35 15.0 55 18
USA 65.6 19 29.5 54 12
Individual Independence
Sweden 71.8 20.8 39.5 79 52
Denmark 70.8 24.3 61.7 83 52
State Dependence
Germany 59.6 30 9.0 85 14
Belgium 54.1 34 38.5 95 15

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