There is growing concern that successful policies to increase labour
force participation could be detrimental to forms of social
participation, in particular volunteer work and informal care. Increased
labour market participation at the level of the individuals and/or
households will result in less available time for other activities.
Policies to increase the labour force participation of especially women
and older workers have been adopted by a number of European governments
to face the challenges of an ageing population. International bodies
like the OECD and the European Union underline these policies as
important for the financial sustainability of European welfare states.
In the past 20- 30 years both Great Britain and the Netherlands have
seen an increase in the labour force participation rates of women from
1981 to 2001. Rates in Great Britain increased by about 10 percentage
points whereas the increase in the Netherlands was more than 30
percentage points (OECD, 2005).
Time use studies show that, on average, the time use for social
participation in the form of volunteer work and informal care is limited
in number of hours. This could lead to the conclusion that an increased
number of working hours would not necessarily have an impact on the
propensity to engage in volunteer work or informal care or the number of
hours spent on these activities.
In this paper we will use employee data for the Netherlands and Great
Britain for the period 1992-2004. Our analyses show that increased
number of working hours of an individual lead to a lower propensity to
engage in both volunteer work and informal care but also to a lower
number of hours spent on these activities. This result is problematic
since governments stress the importance of informal care and volunteer
work, but at the same time tries to increase labour force participation
of the people responsible for the bulk of informal care an volunteer
work, namely older women and older men.
Ronald Dekker (Department Economics of Innovation, Delft University of Technology - the Netherlands)
Date & time:
30 Sep 2008 15:00 pm - 29 Sep 2008 23:00 pm
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