The juggle and struggle of everyday life. Gender, division of work, work-family perceptions and well-being in different policy contexts

Detta är en avhandling från Östersund : Mid Sweden University

Sammanfattning: Background This thesis explores the division of work, work-family perceptions and well-being in different policy contexts. Work (both paid and unpaid) is an arena where gender order is emphasised. Work task specialisation is often based on our ideas of femininity and masculinity. A gender order results in different chances and possibilities in life for men and women, influencing for example access to paid work. Genders are constructed differently across contexts, and countries policies and norms seem to play an important role in for instance the possibilities to combine work and children. Also, gender is important for the understanding and for the experiences of health and well-being. Two main research question are investigated in this thesis. First, how do gendered work division and work-family perceptions relate to well-being? Second, what are the contextual differences (policies and norms) with regard to gendered time use, gender attitude, work-family perceptions and well-being? Methods The thesis is based on data from three sources: the European Social Survey (ESS), the International Social Survey programme (ISSP) and Multinational Time Use Data (MTUS). With these sources, the aim is to capture patterns of behaviours, attitudes and perceptions on both individual level and national level. The methods used are logistic regression (Study I), OLS regression (Study III) and two different types of multilevel analyses (Studies II and IV). Results The results indicate that work-family perceptions are more important for individuals' well-being than actual time spent on paid and unpaid work. Further, the relationship between experiences of imbalance between work and family and low well-being differs by country. In countries where labour markets are more gender-equal the experience of imbalance to a higher degree relate to lower well-being, indicating that those who do experience imbalance in these gender-equal countries report lower levels of well-being than in countries which are less gender-equal. There have been changes in division of work and attitudes towards women's employment over the last few decades. Institutions and policies play a role for the division of work, and to some extent for changes in work task specialisation, as well as attitudes towards women's employment. Conclusion Central findings in this thesis show that it seems as if the experience of balance in life is more important for individuals' well-being than time use. The context in which gender is constructed is important for the relationship between paid work and family life imbalance and well-being and should be taken into consideration in cross-country studies. The fact that individuals in more gender-equal countries report lower well-being when experiencing imbalance could be a result of the multiple burden for both men and women in more gender-equal contexts. Also, the role of context and policies for attitudes and behaviours in relation to work is complex, and although this thesis adds to previous knowledge more research is needed. From a gender perspective the conclusion is that there are dual expectations in relation to work. In more gender-equal countries, women are expected to be equal to men by participating in the labour market. Meanwhile women still have the main responsibility for the home. Thus, it seems as if the equality of work is based on a masculine norm where paid work is highly valued.