Investigating the role of government policy in resolving the work-life conflict by examining regulatory frameworks.
Current UK government policy encourages women to be active in the labour market. As a consequence of increasing female employment, the reconciliation of work and family life has become a major challenge facing UK households, and policies to enable families to balance paid employment and raising a family are high on the UK political agenda. Work-life conflict is high in the UK due to long working hours, modest support for working parents, little compulsion for employers to adopt family friendly policies, and a lack of affordable, flexible childcare. This proposed PhD will seek to improve society’s understanding of how households balance work and family responsibilities, and the role of government policy in shaping these processes. Government policy can influence work-life conflict through institutional support and regulatory frameworks, including a range of economic, social, family and welfare policies.
The PhD project will address key issues such as: (i) how do current UK employment and social policies influence household labour market outcomes (such as labour supply, earnings, retention with employer, years of employment, etc.). For example, maternity leave policies influence the probability that mothers will return to work, and how soon; and paid maternity leave can help to promote gender equality, increase women’s earnings, and enhance child development; (ii) to what extent does childcare act as a barrier to work? Women who seek to combine work and family often have to make choices that are not in their long term interest. Spells out of employment can negatively impact on career development, and the cost of childcare and labour market segregation often mean women get paid less and work in lower quality jobs. In addition, there is no coherent accessible and affordable childcare system in the UK. Parents in the UK spend more on childcare than any other country, with the cost of childcare rising every year for the last decade. These high childcare costs constrain childcare choices for many families, and contribute to the challenge confronting families of reconciling work and family life.
While numerous studies within the economics literature have analyzed the determinants of female and household labour market participation, very little attention has been paid to the effect of employment and social policy measures and childbearing variables on household labour market outcomes, and most studies do not explicitly incorporate these variables into their empirical analyses. Similarly, few studies address the impact of childcare provision on household labour supply decisions. In addition, while there are various studies on the effect of paid maternity leave on parents and children’s outcomes, there is very little literature and evidence for the UK.
To address these issues, a range of quantitative research methods will be used to investigate the impact of a range of policy measures, childbearing variables, and childcare provision on households’ labour market decisions and outcomes, in order to help us understand more about how UK households combine work and family life.
Applicants interested in this research project should submit a more detailed research proposal that expands on the broad outline given above.
This project is funded by a University of Aberdeen Elphinstone Scholarship. An Elphinstone Scholarship covers the cost of tuition fees, whether Home, EU or Overseas.
Selection will be made on the basis of academic merit.
How good is research at Aberdeen University in Economics and Econometrics?
FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.25
Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)
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