Employment and childbearing:women bear the burden of the work-family balance

Population and Societies

426, September 2006

It is women who bear children, and therefore logical to expect their working careers to be more affectedthan those of men. But the gap between men’s meagre involvement in childcare and the major adjust-ments made by women is a wide one: fathers cut back their working activity twenty times less oftenthan mothers do.

Although the birth of a child hardly affects men’semployment, 40% of women report that their work-ing pattern is affected. Stopping work for a shorttime or reducing working hours occurs more fre-quently after second or third births than after thefirst. The women most committed to their workingcareers, single mothers and those with unemployedpartners are the least likely to stop work or cut backtheir working hours. The least qualified, those withcasual jobs or with an employed partner are mostlikely to leave the labour market.

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