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Work-family conflict and working conditions in Western Europe

By Duncan Gallie and Helen Russell


This article explores the influence of working conditions on work-family conflict (WFC) among married/cohabiting employees across seven European countries. Using data from the European Social Survey, the paper first investigates the role of working conditions relative to household level characteristics in mediating work-family conflict at the individual level. It then considers whether perceived conflict is lower in countries with coordinated production regimes and where social policy is more supportive of combining paid work and care demands. For men the lowest rates of WFC occurred in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, so for men there was a distinct 'Nordic' effect consistent with the welfare and production regime expectations. For women, we find paradoxically that 'raw' levels of work-family conflict are particularly high in France, Denmark and Sweden where supports for reconciling work and family life are high. Our models show that the high conflict among French women can be explained by household composition factors and so is due to higher levels of family pressures. Higher levels of conflict among Danish and Swedish women appear to be associated with their longer hours of work. Work conditions are found to play a larger role than family characteristics in accounting for work-family conflict, both in the country level models and in the pooled models. While this partly reflects our focus on the spillover of work into family life, it is notable that family characteristics have litte effect in mediating work pressures. The results suggest that a policy emphasis on improving work conditions is likely to have major leverage in reducing work-family conflict.The full-text of this article is not currently available in ORA, but the original publication is available at (which you may be able to access via the publisher copy link on this record page)

Topics: Sociology, Families, Employment, family and work, work-life balance, work conditions, European Social Survey, job pressure
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s11205-008-9435-0
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