Measuring the effects of welfare state effort on maternal labor supply

Andrea Britze, University of Cologne

The last decades have not only been characterized by dramatic social and economic changes, but also by important advancements in welfare state research. On the one hand, scholars passed on from explaining welfare state development and different degrees of welfare state effort to considering welfare state effort itself as the independent variable affecting certain aggregate or individual outcomes. On the other hand, conceptualizations of welfare state effort turned out to be more encompassing over time and started to comprise more than crude social expenditure data. Furthermore, the feminist perspective on welfare state effort and effect gained much in importance in welfare state research, leading to a focus on the micro and macro determinants of female and maternal labor market participation. Based on the benefits and weaknesses of these advancements, the purpose of the present study is to test if a set of single policy indicators from the policy fields of parental leave, childcare, school schedules, working time regulations, taxation and family allowances have a significant effect on maternal labor supply. Using the 2005 EU SILC and extending over nine European countries, the purpose of the present study is to make an attempt to disentangle specific policy effects to facilitate the development of a comprehensive and straightforward set of policies which influences maternal labor supply decisions. The findings suggest that although many of these policy indicators have frequently been used as determinants of maternal labor supply, often in the form of overall policy indices, the effect of the single indicators does not prove to be very clear.

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Presented in Session 103: Gender in the European policy context