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Abstract

Growing job insecurity in advanced economies mainly affects women whose increasing labour force participation correlates strongly with non-standard forms of employment relations. Women combining unpaid and paid work during the life course are still punished in terms of income, social security, and career development; men – apart from deeply ingrained cultural predispositions to “male role models” – are not yet stimulated by proper economic and social incentives to meet women half way in contributing to family responsibilities. However, there are some signs that men are also increasingly affected by this “feminization” of the labour market. Social security institutions are not well adapted to this trend, on the contrary. Failure of innovation in social security induces employers as well as employees to “escape” into non-standard employment, and flexibility might be hampered by ill adapted social security regulations. This essay argues that the mismatch between labour market trends and social security institutions affects mainly young adults (especially women) who intend to combine family and elderly care work with labour market careers. Flexibility and security, however, can be reconciled and to some extent even transformed into a mutually supportive relationship through applying the principles of transitional labour markets and social risk management. In developing this argument, three questions are addressed. First, what exactly are the risks related to parenting from a labour market point of view? Second, why is social insurance generally to be preferred to individual savings in managing these risks? Third, what are the consequences of these considerations in particular to sharing parental risks?

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