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FAMINE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 263183
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Italy

Social and economic consequences of the new work-family balance

Recent EU-funded research explored new work-family equilibria to learn more about social change and its correlates in European societies. Through an international comparison, the interdisciplinary research team was able to analyse the social and economic consequences of these (dis)equilibria.
Social and economic consequences of the new work-family balance
The labour market and family (two of the classic inequality-generating institutions) have experienced major changes in recent decades. While these have been documented, there is a lack of an integrated perspective linking these developments to trends in social and economic inequality. Moreover, knowledge is needed on how institutional arrangements have mediated the effects of these changes.

The project FAMINE (Families of inequalities- Social and economic consequences of the changing work-family equilibria in European societies) addressed these gaps by applying quantitative methods and bringing together sociology, economics and demography.

Research partners considered the capacity of European societies to fully integrate their populations and provide for decent employment conditions, adequate social rights and full social participation. Investigations focused on disparities between households, genders and individuals, and how they are shaped by the macro contexts.

Specifically, FAMINE focused on three main areas. First, the detailed interconnections between work and family as well as the dynamics behind these new equilibria. Secondly, families' capacities to compensate for increasing market risks. Thirdly, the project centred on the consequences for social and economic inequality of the developments in employment, family formation and changing work-family equilibria in European societies.

Project work found that, over the last two decades and in certain contexts (in southern Europe, for example), labour market deregulatory reforms implemented at the 'margins' reduced the acquisition of social rights and increased inequality and social exclusion. The research evidenced alarming trends in southern Europe, where young generations are finding it increasingly difficult to set up their own family, and an accumulation of both problematic employment situations and social risks.

However, FAMINE found women's inflow to the labour market to be a great equaliser. It also underlined the importance of family policies and labour market opportunities for successfully combining work and family as well as context-specific cultural aspects regarding fertility and employment choices. The findings thus have implications for policies that can help (Mediterranean countries, in particular) overcome the low fertility-low female labour market participation equilibrium and as such foster the dual-earner model throughout Europe.

FAMINE has offered valuable insights regarding the individual (micro), family (meso) and institutional (macro) mechanisms impacting social and economic inequalities. Its work on economic inequality confirms the importance of the welfare state for reducing inequality, albeit with differing levels of efficiency among countries and welfare models.

Related information


Work-family equilibria, social change, labour market, inequality, employment, welfare
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