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Journal Article

Women returners and potential returners: employment profiles and labour market opportunities - a case study of the United Kingdom


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Women who have previously left the labour market to have children or to care for a family member represent a large proportion of the present and potential workforce. This article innovatively links data on women's education with employers’ skill needs and market wage rates to map the different circumstances of women returners in the United Kingdom. We explore whether there is a clustering of women returners in low-wage occupations and how this group can be differentiated. The United Kingdom is a valuable case as it has one of the highest rates of part-time work in Europe. We find that women returners experience high levels of occupational segregation and that these patterns are intensified when they work part-time. Thus, when women returners work part-time, they have limited occupational choice. Rigidities in the design of full- and part-time jobs have led to many women opting for part-time jobs in occupational areas for which they are over qualified. Additionally, we argue that UK women returners and potential returners have been overlooked in government and sector skill council training agendas. We conclude by commenting on the lack of diversification of part-time work and provide insights for policy makers with respect to the labour market, women returners and potential returners.

Published in

European Sociological Review


25 (3):349-363



Labour Market and Childbearing: Fertility



Originally [Advance Access], Sept.2008; serial sequence - indexed article


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