Dare to Share: Germany's Experience Promoting Equal Partnership in Families

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Author(s):
OECD
20 Feb 2017
Pages:
240
ISBN:
9789264259157 (PDF) ;9789264259140(print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264259157-en

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This review introduces the background to and issues at stake in promoting equal partnerships in families in Germany.  It encourages German policy makers to build on the important reforms since the mid-2000s to enable both fathers and mothers to have careers and children, and urges families to “dare to share”. To those ends it places Germany’s experience in an international comparison, and draws from the experience in, for example, France and the Nordic countries which have longstanding policies to support work-life balance and strengthen gender equality. The review starts with an overview chapter also explaining why and how equal sharing pays for families, children, the economy and society as a whole. The book presents current outcomes, policy trends, as well as detailed analysis of the drivers of paid and unpaid work and how more equal partnerships in families may help sustain fertility rates.  The book examines policies to promote partnership, looking both at persistent shortcomings and progress achieved through reform since the mid-2000s. The book includes a set of policy recommendations designed to enable parents to share work and family responsibilities more equally.

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  • Foreword

    Across OECD countries, the smallest gender gaps in time spent on household chores and caring are associated with the smallest gender gaps in employment rates. Time spent at home with the family affects time spent at work and vice versa. The traditional malebreadwinner model no longer reflects an efficient resource allocation in the labour market nor the aspirations of many fathers and mothers. Indeed, many fathers nowadays would like to have more time to spend with their children and many mothers would like to have more time to pursue their labour market aspirations and potentials.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Germany has made great strides in reforming policies that support working families and promote equal partnership among parents in couple families. In the past, labour market institutions, public policies, and social norms reinforced traditional gender roles especially in West Germany, but social policy reforms over the last decade – such as parental leave reform and greater public investment in early childhood education and care (ECEC) supports – have increased opportunities for parents to find a better work/family balance.

  • Dare to share: Germany's experience with promoting equal partnership in families

    This chapter introduces the background to and issues at stake in promoting equal partnerships in families in Germany. It encourages German policy makers to build on the important reforms of 2007 and 2015 to enable both fathers and mothers to combine work and family commitments, and commends families to “dare to share”. To those ends it places Germany’s experience in an international comparison, and draws from the experience of, for example, France and the Nordic countries, which have longstanding policies to support work-life balance and strengthen gender equality. The chapter begins with an explanation of why and how equal sharing pays: it is good for family well-being, child development, female employment opportunities, fathers’ working hours (Sections 2 and 3) and sustaining fertility rates. Section 4 examines policies to promote partnership, looking both at persistent shortcomings and progress achieved through reform since the mid-2000s. The chapter closes with a set of policy recommendations designed to enable parents to share work and family responsibilities more equally.

  • Partnerships, family composition and the division of labour: Germany in the context of the OECD

    German family policy seeks to promote equal partnerships in families in furtherance of its objective of enabling parents to have children, spend more time with them, and participate in the labour market. This chapter seeks to provide context and perspective. It begins by looking at demography in Germany and other OECD countries, with particular focus on fertility, family make-up, marriage and the rise of cohabitation. Section 3 addresses women’s role in the labour market. It finds that, although there has been strong growth in female employment over the last 15 years, German women continue to earn less than men and are all too often confined to part-time work. Yet they are increasingly well educated, and often better educated than men. The next section finds that inequality also prevails in unpaid work in the home, where women still do the lion’s share of housework and parenting. Section 5 considers widespread dissatisfaction with the struggle to balance work and family life, while the final section examines how a more equal gender distribution of paid work might impact on the German labour force and German economic performance.

  • Policies to support equal partnerships in families in Germany

    This chapter considers ways in which Germany may continue to promote equal partnerships in families. The chapter first introduces the issues and sets out the main findings, before examining policies in OECD countries that foster equal partnership in families and discussing how those policies differ in their approach and tools. Section 3 looks at how financial incentive structures embodied in tax/benefit systems may encourage both parents to work. Parental leave is a critical component of policies to reconcile work and family life and the main subject of the next section, which considers how reform in Germany has changed father’s and mother’s leave taking behaviour. Section 5 analyses the implications of a potential family working-time model. Such a scheme could foster gender equality, involve fathers more in child care and housework, and enable mothers to work full-time or longer part-time hours. The next section discusses the provision of early childhood education and care services and out-ofschool- hours care. Finally, the chapter considers how stakeholders can (and have) come together to offer flexible working-time arrangements that help balance paid work with family commitments.

  • Earning and working unequally: Partnered parents in paid work

    This chapter focuses on gender inequality in paid work. The chapter looks first at the working weeks of men and women of different ages across the OECD. It then focuses on German parents to find that German women are more likely to work part-time and shorter part-time hours than in OECD countries. And when they do work full-time, their hours – and those of their male partners – are quite long. As a rule, though, German mothers in employment work short part-time hours, while fathers work long full-time hours. On average German mothers and fathers do not share paid work equally. As a result, mothers contribute less than fathers to household income. Accordingly, the wide gaps in earnings and working hours are the main subject of the next section. The last section analyses why some mothers work part-time and some full-time. It factors into its analysis mothers’ levels of educational attainment, the number of children they have, how old they are, and the earnings and working hours of their partners. The chapter calls for policies that support the work-life balance and sustain birth rates, female employment, and more equally shared paid work.

  • How partners in couples share unpaid work

    This chapter examines how equally, or unequally, couples share unpaid work – i.e. housework and parenting. The chapter uses micro data from time use surveys in 11 countries to better understand how couples share unpaid work and can do so more equally. It begins by introducing the issues to hand, then lists the chapter’s main findings before looking at couples’ work, both paid and unpaid. It finds that, in many but not all countries, women do more work on aggregate. It also explores how couples of different ages share unpaid work and concludes that the gender gap in unpaid work is widest in older couples. It examines couples in which both partners do paid work and finds that, in general, they share unpaid work more equally than those where only one partner works. On the whole, though, the chapter finds that women do more work, paid and unpaid, as men. Section 4 looks at the factors that affect and shape the sharing of unpaid work and observes that with parenthood couples share paid and unpaid work the traditional way. The same section also considers child care and finds that, while mothers nurture young children, the gap in parenting between fathers and mothers decreases once children start school. Indeed, a high proportion of fathers’ time with their children is quality time. Section 5 gives consideration of care for other adults in the household and finds that in most countries partnered men are less likely to be involved in care than partnered women.

  • Equal sharing and having children in Germany and France

    This chapter concludes Dare to Share with a comparison of fertility behaviours in Germany and France. The point of departure is the disparity between France’s high rates of fertility and Germany’s low ones. The purpose is to explore how Germany might draw on French practices and policies to strengthen equal partnership in families so that German parents can have children and careers. Section 2 looks at the persistent fertility gap between the two countries, identifying France’s family-friendly child care policies as a key factor. Section 3 then goes on to consider the discrepancy between mothers’ desire for children and their childlessness, which is much higher in Germany than in France. Again policy is a critical determinant, though Germany’s more traditional perceptions of gender roles also have a part to play. Section 4 stresses how couples’ levels of educational attainment, earnings and length of working hours affect fertility. Some concluding remarks wrap up the chapter. They stress that policy changes since 2007 have helped ease the conflict between full-time work and parenthood. More equal sharing in families and public action to reconcile work and family life may further help to sustain tentatively rising fertility trends.

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