Publication date: 4 November 2003
Raising children and having a career both rate highly as important life goals for many people. Helping parents to achieve these goals is vital for society: parental care plays a crucial role in child development and parental employment promotes economic prosperity. A failure to assist parents find their preferred work and family balance has implications for both labour supply and family decisions.
This study considers how a wide range of policies, including tax/benefit policies, childcare policies, and employment and workplace practices, help determine parental labour market outcomes and family formation in Austria, Ireland and Japan.
These three countries have experienced changes in female aspirations and labour force behaviour, while at the same time birth rates have dropped significantly. For some (potential) parents, having children (or having as many as desired) and fulfilling labour market aspirations are mutually exclusive activities. As a result, current labour supply is less than what it could be, and human capital is underused. This result reflects an inefficient use of labour market resources, and if this situation were to be perpetuated, it would limit economic growth relative to potential. The declining number of children also has obvious implications for the shape of future societies. This volume includes some options for policy reform towards a better reconciliation of work and family commitments in Austria, Ireland and Japan.
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