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The Work of Families: The Provision of Market and Household labor and the Role of Public Policy

Julia Heath, David Ciscel and David Sharp

Review of Social Economy, 1998, vol. 56, issue 4, 501-521

Abstract: This paper examines the ability of the family to perform both its economic and institutional functions in today's economy. We argue that individual and family choice with respect to paid and unpaid labor is severely limited. This lack of alternatives in work is generated by three social forces that shape the economic landscape: (1) a tradition rooted in patriarchy; (2) the market system; and (3) the social policies of the state. We create a framework within which the work of families can be analyzed over the past two decades. The analysis is based on data from three waves of the PSID: 1972, 1983, and 1992. Three family types—dual-earner, male-earner, and female-earner family structures—are examined for the nature and intensity of the work effort, the change in labor commitment over time, changes in real income and hourly earnings, and the effect of the increasing encroachment of the market on the family's distribution of labor between the two spheres. Finally, the work of families is examined within the context of the social policies of government, including a review of the institutional difficulties of providing family friendly policies in the current social environment.

Keywords: work of families; paid and unpaid work; social capital; family wage; work hours; family policy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1998
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DOI: 10.1080/00346769800000047

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