Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


WORKCARE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 28361
Funded under: FP6-CITIZENS

The state can help families balance work and home

A team of European researchers took an innovative approach to researching how public policy influences working families in their organisation of home and professional life. Project findings spotlight viable models for supporting active employment on the part of both mothers and fathers.
The state can help families balance work and home
The 'Social quality and the changing relationships between work, care and welfare in Europe' (Workcare) project explored, at the macro level, the relationships between structural changes in the labour market, demography, and welfare and economic policies. The micro level analysis included changes in personal orientations regarding work and care. The focus of the EU-funded project was on measuring both the quality of society and the quality of life through a social quality assessment.

Extending the scope throughout Europe, including new Member States, project partners worked to integrate perspectives of gender and care into their analyses of how national and EU policies support working parents with young children. EU policy aims to encourage the active and gainful employment of as many women and men as possible. However, this raises several questions: How can work and care best be combined? How can mothers and fathers benefit from equal opportunities? Can high employment rates for women and men be maintained while encouraging family building? How can seemingly conflicting policy objectives related to these issues be reconciled?

Research involved analysing cross-European datasets to gain a better understanding of European patterns of work and care, national- and European-level childcare, and flexibility and workplace policies. In-depth interviews were also carried out in countries with contrasting traditions of work and care.

Project work resulted in offering pointers on how to achieve key policy objectives as well as recommendations for EU evidence-based public policy development that will enable European citizens to improve the quality of their lives. Workcare's research findings highlighted that the costs of an extended family leave model are not decidedly lower than those of the extensive family care model, i.e. long leave for mothers. As such, the extensive family policy model is most likely to fulfil European policy objectives as well as parents' aspirations for combining work and care.

Through an innovative methodological and theoretical approach combining policy analysis and qualitative and quantitative research, the Workcare project contributed to key European issues and offered novel insight into the impact of social policies on work and care. The findings can be used to further examine how employment flexibility affects the organisation of work, care and welfare, as well as the effects of competing demands of work and care on fertility decisions across the EU.

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