Working Time Distribution and Preferences Across the Life Course: A European Perspective
The main objective of this paper is to identify andexplain cross-country gender disparities in workingtime distribution and working time preferences inseven EU-member states (France, Germany, Italy, theNetherlands, Poland and the UK). The selection ofthese countries has been essentially guided by thefact that they differ considerably in terms of welfarestate regime, employment and industrial relationsystems, family policies, and gender contract. Ourselected European countries still display a highgender polarization of working time and the currentgendered working time distribution reflects theresilience of a traditional gender contract. Regardingworking time preferences a majority of wage earnersseem to be satisfied with their current workingtime. However, around 45 per cent of dependentemployees indicate that they would like to changetheir current working time, and most of them expressa preference for a reduction of working time. Ourresults also show that male and female employees inour selected countries aspire to some convergenceof working time, female employees expressing onaverage a wish of increasing their working time andmen a wish of decreasing working time. Beyondmeasures favouring a more balanced gender divisionof labour, our study tends also to show the need ofimplementing family-friendly, flexible and reversibleworking time options across the life course. Finally,our results show that the current EU working timedirective is not always successful in limiting excessiveworking time.
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