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Work and Family Balance: An Economic View


  • Lindy Fursman
  • Veronica Jacobsen
  • Jason Varuhas

    () (The Treasury)


The way in which people balance their work and family responsibilities is becoming increasingly prominent on the policy agenda. This paper uses an economic framework to explore the rationale for government policies to improve work/family balance. It finds that strongest economic grounds for government intervention are the effects that maternal work may have on children. The evidence, however, is not strong, and whether maternal employment helps or harms children depends to a large part on the nature and quality of the childcare the children receive while the parents are at work. A number of policies could be used to promote work/family balance, including leave, childcare, changes to working hours, efforts to improve the family-friendliness of organisational cultures and tax/benefit policies. The most significant factor affecting work/family balance appears to be the organisational culture of the firm. In general, if organisational culture is not, in fact family-friendly, family-friendly measures will have little effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Lindy Fursman & Veronica Jacobsen & Jason Varuhas, 2003. "Work and Family Balance: An Economic View," Treasury Working Paper Series 03/26, New Zealand Treasury.
  • Handle: RePEc:nzt:nztwps:03/26

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aaron Drew & Benjamin Hunt, 2000. "A comparison of the properties of NZM and FPS," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2000/02, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    2. Sebastian Edwards, 1987. "Tariffs, Terms of Trade, and the Real Exchange Rate in an Intertemporal Optimizing Model of the Current Account," NBER Working Papers 2175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. W. E. G. Salter, 1959. "Internal And External Balance: The Role Op Price And Expenditure Effects," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 35(71), pages 226-238, August.
    4. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1974. "Tariffs and nontraded goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 177-185, May.
    5. Olivier Basdevant & David Hargreaves, 2003. "Modelling structural change: the case of New Zealand," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series DP2003/03, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    6. Aaron Drew & Ben Hunt, 1998. "The Forecasting and Policy System: preparing economic projections," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Discussion Paper Series G98/7, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    7. Edwards, Sebastian & van Wijnbergen, Sweder, 1987. "Tariffs, The Real Exchange Rate and the Terms of Trade: On Two Popular Propositions in International Economics," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(3), pages 458-464, September.
    8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Flüter-Hoffmann, Christiane & Solbrig, Jörn, 2003. "Wie familienfreundlich ist die deutsche Wirtschaft?," IW-Trends – Vierteljahresschrift zur empirischen Wirtschaftsforschung, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft Köln (IW) / Cologne Institute for Economic Research, vol. 30(4), pages 37-46.

    More about this item


    work-life balance; work-family balance; organisational culture; public policy; workplace regulation; labour market regulation; family; family policy; childcare; parental leave; working hours; firm;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • L29 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Other


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