Care responsibilities often fall disproportionately on women and can be a roadblock to full time employment. Labor market regulations could be a way to make the share of unpaid care work time more equitable between men and women and could make it easier to participate in paid work more. During the second day of the Concluding Annual Meeting, Dr. Emel Memiş presented her research with Dr. Ipek Ilkkaracan that explored the impact of regulations of labor market working hours on paid employment and unpaid care work hours.
The study used two simulations to see the effect of reducing the maximum working hours from 68 hours to 52 and 40 hours. The data they used is the Care Work Family Survey Data conducted by the Care Work and the Economy project in South Korea. This allowed them to look at time allocation for tasks within households, use of paid childcare services, and paid employment time. The conceptual idea behind the policy simulation of reducing working hours is that men would have more time to dedicate to care work which would lower women’s time in care work and increase their paid work.
The simulations found evidence to support the conceptual hypothesis- reducing work hours for men increased their care work time, decreased their wives care work time and increased their wives paid work. Specifically, reducing the working hours to 40 hours led to an average increase in men’s care work time by almost 5 hours, and an average increase in women’s paid work time by 7 hours. These results are important because they show that the labor market working hour regulation policy has the potential to significantly reduce the gender gap in paid employment hours and improve the quality of life of workers with large care burdens.
To watch the full presentation, see below.
Written by Catherine Falvey, Research Assistant for the Care Work and the Economy project and PhD student in Economics at American University