A Theoretical Approach for Work-Family Balance
Institute of Empirical and Applied Sociology (EMPAS) University of Bremen Bremen, Germany
Balancing work and family demands is a crucial factor for life satisfaction in modern societies, even more if childcare is involved. This holds true for all industrialized countries but still depends on the specific institutional setting. In Germany like in other conservative welfare states, individuals are confronted with severe problems when combining both life domains and thus either face high work-family conflicts if they are employed and have children or take the consequence of relying only on one domain, i.e. staying childless or withdraw from the labor market.
To understand the balance of these two life domains it is necessary to know more about the precise process how life domains in general influence each other positively and negatively and secondly what job characteristics can cause this influence. The proposed presentation closes this gap and explains the influence of the interdependencies of life domains on the work-family balance through job characteristics in the German setting.
The presentation uses the Sociology of the Life Course complemented by assumptions of the Theory of Social Production Function as a theoretical background for the analysis and develops four types of interdependencies between life domains: competition (domains compete for resources), complementarity (domains provide each other resources), spill-over (welfare in one domain influences it in the other) and compensation (missing welfare in one domain is compensated by the other), which highly depend on the individuals? job characteristics
To analyze the hypotheses data of the 2007 wave of the German Socioeconomic Panel will be used. The panel collects precise information about the occupation of individuals and also asks about their satisfaction with their job and family life, which will be used as indicators for work-family-balance. The empirical data will show that the postulated interdependencies influence work-family balance but that there are important gender and regional differences due to the existing family values.
Finally the importance of the theoretical arguments of this paper for other research -for instance the decision for parenthood- will be discussed.