Work, Family & Policy. Gender and migrant-native differentials in work-family trajectories around parenthood

Datum: 27 september 2017

Locatie: Stadscampus, Klooster van de Grauwzusters, Promotiezaal - Lange St-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Tijdstip: 16 uur

Promovendus: Tine Kil

Promotor: Prof. dr. Karel Neels

Korte beschrijving: Doctoraatsverdediging Tine Kil - Departement Sociologie


Over the past 50 years there has been a strong increase in female employment in Western Europe, which marked a switch from the male breadwinner model to the dual earner model as the ideal household arrangement in most countries. Nevertheless, the transition to parenthood still introduces or strengthens a gender division of employment and housework in a large number of families. At the same time, most Western-European countries witnessed increasing ethnic diversity in their populations, raising questions on whether the course of work-family trajectories among migrants and their descendants converges to work-family trajectories among natives. Given these societal changes, this dissertation studies determinants of the gender division of work and migrant-native differentials in labour force attachment over the process of family formation.

The first paper adopts a cross-sectional comparative perspective, investigating how national context, life course stage and individual characteristics influence the gender division of housework in Europe. Results show that parents of young children better succeed in translating progressive gender ideas into a gender equal division of housework in more gender egalitarian contexts. Given the limitations of a cross-sectional approach, the subsequent papers use longitudinal data for Belgium. The second paper focuses on full-time working couples and studies the gender division of paid work following the transition to parenthood. Results show that pre-birth relative earnings moderate, but do not counteract the negative effect of parenthood on gender equality in couples’ employment division. The third and fourth paper look into migrant-native differences in mothers’ employment and parental leave uptake following the transition to parenthood. Results show that pre-birth socio-economic differences between women of migrant origin and natives are reproduced and accentuated over the process of family formation. Belgian parental leave eligibility criteria contribute to the reproduction of this pattern as they do not provide parental leave to parents that occupy unstable employment positions.

Hence, this dissertation contributes to further elaboration of a life course perspective on work-family trajectories. It provides evidence for the interplay between life course stage, context and agency, and for how initial relative positions of partners and initial labour market (dis)advantages of migrant women determine labour force attachment following the transition to parenthood.

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