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Are we all in this together? Alleviating the childcare constraint for women in economic crises

Are we all in this together? Alleviating the childcare constraint for women in economic crises

Cagliesi, Maria and Hawkes, Denise ORCID: 0000-0002-7305-3846 (2021) Are we all in this together? Alleviating the childcare constraint for women in economic crises. International Journal of Social Economics, 48 (9). pp. 1245-1263. ISSN 0306-8293 (doi:

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The purpose of this paper is to advocate the use of gendered economic policies to stimulate a post Covid-19 recovery. We alert on the risk of ignoring the female dimension of the current crisis and of resorting again to austerity programmes that, like the ones enacted after the 2008 crisis, would hit women and mothers disproportionally harder than other groups.

We use data from the British Household Panel Survey on female participation and account for gendered constraints and enablers missed by mainstream economics. Using a sequential empirical approach, we simulate various welfare policy scenarios that address factors, such as childcare costs, personal and social nudges, that could help women back into the labour market in the aftermath of a crisis.

We found that incentive-type interventions, such as subsidies, promote female labour market participation more effectively than punishment-austerity type interventions, such as benefits’ cuts. Policies oriented to alleviate childcare constraints can be sustainable and effective in encouraging women back to work. Considering factors wider than the standard economic variables when designing labour market policies may provide fruitful returns.

The sequential methodology enables the estimation of current and counterfactual incomes for each female in the sample and to calculate their prospective financial gains and losses in changing their labour market Status Quo, from not employed into employed or vice-versa. Welfare policies affect these prospective gains and losses and, by interacting with other factors, such as education, number and age of children and social capital, prompt changes in women’s labour market choices and decision.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ‘Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited. This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher.’
Uncontrolled Keywords: child care; economic crises; policy simulations; cross-disciplinary approach; female labour market participation; gender-budgeting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Centre for Work and Employment Research (CREW)
Faculty of Business > Department of International Business & Economics
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2022 14:09

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