Despite significant increases in female labour market participation and educational achievement in the EU in recent decades, women still trail men in terms of employment rates, earnings and occupational attainment. This thesis is about the interplay between the characteristics of individuals associated with productivity, labour market returns to these characteristics, and country-level work/family reconciliation policies in influencing female employment and gender inequalities in the labour market in the enlarged EU. It explores variations in the ways EU member states support individuals in combining work and family life and the extent to which these policies promote gender equality in the labour market in terms of pay and occupational attainment. The approach of the thesis is quantitative and comparative, based on the secondary analysis of micro social datasets and comparable policy indicators, using advanced statistical techniques. It is also multi-disciplinary, drawing on the literature and methods from the fields of labour economics and comparative social policy.\ud \ud Results from the study suggest that the existing work-family reconciliation policies in the EU have not caught up sufficiently with the dramatic advances in women’s labour market position. To various extents, they retain elements of the traditional male breadwinner model. Even in the Nordic countries, which rank highest on most measures of gender equity in work/family reconciliation policies, women tend to earn less than men, on average, and to work in a narrower range of occupations than their male counterparts. At the other extreme, Eastern-European and Mediterranean countries tend to have more traditional gender-role attitudes and a policy environment less compatible with the dual-earner/dual-carer model of the family. However, women who work, particularly those who work full-time, typically enjoy more equality with men in terms of their wages and occupational attainment. \u
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