Too much or too little work? Couples’ actual and preferred employment patterns and work hours mismatches in Europe

Steiber, NadiaORCID: and Haas, Barbara (2018) Too much or too little work? Couples’ actual and preferred employment patterns and work hours mismatches in Europe. Journal of Family Research, 30 (3), pp. 269-292.

ZfF_2018_3_05_Steiber.pdf - Published Version

Download (181kB) | Preview


The most widely cited European data on work hours mismatches at the couple level date back to the 1990s. The general gist of analyses of these data was that ‘overworked’ dual-earner couples frequently preferred work hours reductions, especially those with childcare responsibilities. This study uses more recent data from the European Social Survey (2010-12) to update the available evidence on actual and preferred breadwinner models and on the occurrence and determinants of work hours mismatches among couples in Europe.
The focus is on differences between demographic groups and countries in the degree to which cohabiting couples are either underemployed (working fewer hours than desired) or overemployed (working more hours than desired). Our analyses show that about one third of couples are underemployed, while only one in ten report being overemployed. We identify low education and the presence of children below school age as risk factors for underemployment, whereas highly educated women and fathers of teenagers tend to be overemployed. In a comparison of 16 European countries, we find couples in Greece, Ireland, Slovenia, and Spain to be most at risk of experiencing underemployment – in the countries that were most strongly affected by the recession. The effects of children on the experience of hours mismatches are found to vary across Europe – a particularly strong association of children below school age with parental underemployment is observed in Central and Eastern Europe, Finland, and Germany and a particularly weak one in Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, and Sweden.

Item Type: Article in Academic Journal
Keywords: couples, labour supply, preferences, hours mismatch, European Social Survey
Research Units: Current Research Groups > Education and Employment
Former Research Units (until 2020) > in_Equality and Education
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2018 11:25
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 11:43
DOI: 10.3224/zff.v30i3.03
ISSN: 1437-2940

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item