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Women's Labour Force Attachment in Europe: An Analytical Framework and Empirical Evidence for the Household


  • Muehlberger, Ulrike

    (European University Institute)


This paper has two major aims. First, it argues that for employment issues, economics and sociology do not carry out substitutional but complementary research. Interdisciplinary research on labour markets is strongly needed to fully understand the mechanism of labour markets. Second, it theoretically discusses the influence of the household on women's labour market behaviour and shows some evidence from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). The increased labour market participation of women in Europe has led to an intensive interdisciplinary research. The economic view of supply (construction of preferences) and demand (firm's rationales) shows that institutional systems, which are considered as exogenous, influence the labour market behaviour of individuals and households. These institutional systems which are the 'black boxes' in the economic view, constitute the main focus of the sociological approach to work. This paper shows that a theoretical connection of labour economics and sociology within an institutional approach, coupled with a gender order perspective, provides a useful framework of analysis. Within this framework, I distinguish between the individual actors of a labour market - namely households, firms and the state - and analyse the interdependencies between them. Political measures influence not only households (e. g. education, care activities) but also firms (e. g. organisation of production). The interaction of these three spheres determines the quantity and quality of the labour market participation of women. The empirical part of this paper tests some of the determinants of the labour market behaviour of women with the help of the data of the European Community Household Panel. It is argued that the determinants of women’s labour market behaviour are interrelated with a whole set of social and economic institutions which form a specific employment system.

Suggested Citation

  • Muehlberger, Ulrike, 2000. "Women's Labour Force Attachment in Europe: An Analytical Framework and Empirical Evidence for the Household," IRISS Working Paper Series 2000-07, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  • Handle: RePEc:irs:iriswp:2000-07
    Note: Preliminary version

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
    2. Polachek, Solomon William, 1981. "Occupational Self-Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 63(1), pages 60-69, February.
    3. O'Reilly, Jacqueline, 1996. "Theoretical considerations in cross-national employment research," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 96-203, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 33-58, January.
    5. Jacqueline O'Reilly, 1996. "Theoretical Considerations in Cross-National Employment Research," Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, vol. 1(1), pages 1-2.
    6. Mary E. Corcoran & Paul N. Courant, 1987. "Sex-Role Socialization and Occupational Segregation: An Exploratory Investigation," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 330-346, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sabine Chaupain-Guillot & Olivier Guillot & Eliane Jankeliowitch-Laval, 2008. "Choix d’activité des mères et garde des jeunes enfants : une comparaison entre les pays de l’Europe des Quinze à partir des données de l’ECHP," Working Papers of BETA 2008-03, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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