Couple Strategies: Negotiating Working Time over the Life Course

  • Brigid van Wanrooy
Part of the Life Course Research and Social Policies book series (LCRS, volume 1)


The majority of Australian families with children have two parents in paid employment. This presents the couple with choices to be made about how to allocate and share responsibilities for both earning and caring. Decisions about participation in paid employment are not made in isolation and are constrained by social, financial, employment and personal factors. Couples develop strategies to manage both work and household responsibilities which are continually negotiated throughout the life course. This chapter examines Australians’ choices and preferences about how many hours to spend in paid employment and how these choices are influenced by their partners’ employment and their joint caring responsibilities. The Negotiating Life Course project provides insight into the number of hours spent in paid work and preferences for alternative arrangements. The overwhelming practice and preference for Australian couples with childcare responsibilities is the ‘neo-traditional’ approach to sharing paid work. The default to this strategy can be attributed to various aspects of Australia’s working time regime, including the unavailability of quality part time jobs, full time jobs with long hours, and the lack of affordable childcare.


Full Time Part Time Work Part Time Couple Strategy Part Time Employment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration ServiceLondonUK

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