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Work Schedules and Family Life: How Does the Birth of Children Weigh in the Balance?

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A Longitudinal Approach to Family Trajectories in France

Part of the book series: INED Population Studies ((INPS,volume 7))

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The work-family balance has become a major issue for both parents and policy-makers in a context of massive female labour force participation and the spread of the dual-earner family model. According to the French GGS survey, economically active persons find it more difficult to reconcile work and family life if they have non-standard working hours, a working day divided into two separate shifts, or if they work on an irregular basis. The presence of children in the household, and their number, strengthen this feeling. These observations suggest a need to adjust work schedules after the birth of children in order to improve the work-family balance.

Comparison of working hours on three separate dates (2005, 2008, 2011), made possible by the longitudinal data of the GGS survey, shows that a birth has little impact on work schedules, which are mainly determined by the constraints of the job held.

These results confirm the weight of traditional family models where the woman is responsible for looking after the children: a birth increases the likelihood, for women only, that they will shift from full-time to part-time working. They also highlight the financial priorities that emerge within the couple: lone mothers and mothers whose partner is unemployed less often shift to part-time working.

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  1. 1.

    Categories proposed in the INSEE Continuous Employment Survey.

  2. 2.

    The information on occupational status concerns people in employment or on maternity, paternity or parental leave at the time of the interview.

  3. 3.

    Several answers (maximum 4) may be given. In wave 1, there were 93 combinations of answers.

  4. 4.

    See Létroublon (2015) for more details on employees who work on Sundays.

  5. 5.

    See Algava (2014) for more information on employees who work nights.

  6. 6.

    However, only 17% of the people in employment who work regularly in the evening also work regularly at night, and only 14% of the people who work regularly on the weekend also work regularly at night.

  7. 7.

    For example, this is the case of an employee who works the same days every week with hours that alternate from 1 week to the next between the morning and afternoon shifts (2 × 8) or between the morning, afternoon and night shifts (3 × 8).

  8. 8.

    In Sautory and Zilloniz (2014, 2015), a study of the weekly work schedule in the INSEE time-use survey revealed a type of week with fragmented days characterized by two work periods separated by more than 3 h. This type of week concerned 4% of the people in employment in 2010.

  9. 9.

    These results are generated by a multinomial logistic modelling that models the type of work schedule (relative to regular daytime work) on the basis of the data compiled from the three waves of the survey (2005, 2008 and 2011). The explanatory variables are: sex, age, educational level, socio-occupational category, type of contract, full- or part-time work, the activity of the partner, the number of children in the household, and the year of the survey.

  10. 10.

    Two types of change are analysed for work schedules: the switch to regular daytime hours and the switch to atypical, alternate and fragmented hours or irregular work. The times generally worked cannot be used to measure all the possible ways of adjusting schedules. For example, shifts in working hours of several hours (a person leaving work earlier to pick up their child from childcare) are generally undetectable.

  11. 11.

    From all the questions in the survey, some 850 births among the surveyed population were established (concerning 647 respondents, with some respondents having had several children): 480 between 2005 and 2008 and 370 between 2008 and 2011.

  12. 12.

    Thee retrospective calendar of activity in the GGS can be used to establish more precise dates for changes in situation (e.g. from employment to non-employment) but gives no indications as to changes in work schedules.

  13. 13.

    We assume here that the change in schedule or employment status after the birth of a child is independent of the period considered, as shown in the analysis of all the individuals in the panel (Tables 8.8 and 8.9).

    Table 8.8 Determinants of changes in men’s work schedules or employment status (ß parameters from logit model)
    Table 8.9 Determinants of women’s changes of work schedule or employment status (ß parameters from logit model)
  14. 14.

    When a person has changed their work schedule and switched to part-time work, the change observed is that of part-time working.

  15. 15.

    The inadequate number of observations prevents us from modelling the probability of changing work schedule for people who had a child (and certainly does not allow us to distinguish between men and women in this respect). More specifically, the explanatory variables of the models presented are as follows: the period of the change, age at the start of the period, educational level at the start of the period, occupational category at the start of the period, change of employment during the period, number of children in the household at the start of the period, and the birth of a child during the period. To detect the occurrence of changes during the two periods, the panel data were stacked and the analyses controlled per individual.


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Correspondence to Sandra Zilloniz .

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Zilloniz, S. (2017). Work Schedules and Family Life: How Does the Birth of Children Weigh in the Balance?. In: Régnier-Loilier, A. (eds) A Longitudinal Approach to Family Trajectories in France. INED Population Studies, vol 7. Springer, Cham.

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