The Treasury

Global Navigation

Personal tools

3.2  Full-time and part-time work

Figure 4 disguises the important dimension of hours worked. “Both parents in paid work”, for example, can be further divided into two key groups. One of these is where both partners work full time (the so-called “egalitarian” model), while in the other group the man works full time and the woman part time (the “neo-traditional” model).[4] To set the New Zealand data in an international context, Figures 5, 6 and 7 draw on European data to show patterns of employment for couples with pre-school children. (A preferred working arrangement in each country, based on the mothers’ responses, is shown in Appendix 2).

A number of patterns are discernable in these graphs. Firstly, when compared with European countries, New Zealand is not at the high end of the spectrum in terms of the proportion of dual, full-time employed couples with young children. Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, are amongst the countries with the highest proportion of couples both working full time. However, when the “neo-traditional” arrangement (where the woman works part time) is considered (Figure 6), New Zealand is higher in the rankings. Finally, New Zealand is in the middle ground in terms of “traditional” couples rather than being at the high end (Figure 7).

Figure 5 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where both work full time, European countries and New Zealand
Figure 5 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where both work full time, European countries and New Zealand.
Source: European data from Table 2.1 of OECD (2003), New Zealand data from the Census.
Figure 6 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where the male works full time and the female part time, European countries and New Zealand
Figure 6 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where the male works full time and the female part time, European countries and New Zealand.
Source: European data from Table 2.1 OECD (2003), New Zealand data from the Census.
Figure 7 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where the male works full time and the female is not employed, European countries and New Zealand
Figure 7 – Proportion of couples with a child under 6 where the male works full time and the female is not employed, European countries and New Zealand.
Source: European data from Table 2.1 OECD (2003), New Zealand data from the Census.

The preference data shown in Appendix 2 indicate that in almost all countries a higher proportion of couples would prefer both partners working than the actual outcomes suggest. It is not clear what holds women back from fulfilling these preferences. For individuals, the reasons are likely to include a lack of affordable, quality childcare; insufficient flexible jobs offering the desired hours and income; and a lack of sharing of unpaid work in the home.[5] In addition, if Hakim (2000) is correct in her theory about the work preferences of women, there will be a residual group in each country who, no matter what incentives are offered (such as free out-of-home childcare), will want to remain “home centred”.

Notes

  • [4]In a United States context, Moen and Yu (2000) were amongst early users of the term “neotraditional”.
  • [5]Other attitudinal data are also set out in Appendix 2. One set of data, based on attitudes in the mid 1990s, suggest that while New Zealand is not at the most liberal end of the spectrum in terms of sex roles for mothers and fathers, it is also far from being the most conservative. However, another data set, also a decade old,indicates that a high proportion of survey respondents think New Zealand mothers should be at home with their preschool children, but, if they are employed, should work relatively short hours.
Page top