Journal of Population Research

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 39–65 | Cite as

The role of education in the reconciliation between female occupation and family responsibilities at mid-life: the Italian case

  • Valeria BordoneEmail author
  • Alessandro Rosina


This study, based on the data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe, deals with the labour market participation of mid-aged women and the reconciliation with family responsibilities. The analysis focuses on Italy, a fast ageing country with a very low female occupation rate. By performing a comparison with Sweden and France, we set three European models, different in terms of welfare system and gender roles, against each other. Women’s educational attainment is shown to be the most important factor associated with being in the labour market between 50 and 59 years old in all the countries analysed. Our findings suggest a couple-oriented approach to study women’s balancing of career and family: for married women, husbands’ education plays an ambivalent role concerning women's participation in the labour market, according to its combination with wives’ resources. The depressive effect on female employment of living close to a parent in poor health holds especially in Italy, suggesting the need to invest more on welfare policies in this country.


Female labour force participation Human capital Family support Italy Ageing 



This paper uses data from SHARE release 2.3.1, as of 29 July 2010. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through the 5th framework program (project QLK6-CT-2001-00360 in the thematic program Quality of Life), through the 6th framework program (projects SHARE-I3, RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE, CIT5-CT-2005-028857, and SHARELIFE, CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and through the 7th framework program (SHARE-PREP, 211909 and SHARE-LEAP, 227822). Additional funding from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01 AG09740-13S2, P01 AG005842, P01 AG08291, P30 AG12815, Y1-AG-4553-01 and OGHA 04-064, IAG BSR06-11, R21 AG025169) as well as from various national sources is gratefully acknowledged (see for a full list of funding institutions). This research was partly funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): Z171-G11.


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© Springer Science & Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU)Vienna University of Economics and BusinessViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Statistical ScienceUniversità Cattolica del Sacro CuoreMilanItaly

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