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Division of labour in Polish households: how decisions are made

Date: 09.05.2023, 13:00
Place: Zoom meeting

Magda Muter, London School of Economics and Political Science

This paper explores the decision-making processes regarding division of labour among Polish dual-earner couples, having young children. The birth of a child usually results in more traditional division of labour among partners, including strongly gendered division of newly created childcare labour.

I conducted 86 semi-structured individual interviews with 44 couples in 2019. My aim was not only to learn about how labour (e.g. caring activities) is shared, but also how the decisions about division of labour are made. Additionally, I also used Polish Social Insurance Institution data to illustrate that the seemingly gender-neutral policies produce strongly gendered uptake (e.g. parental leaves and sick leaves for a child).

Mothers are generally responsible for organising childcare even when they are not providing it personally. If they want to come back to work, they need to find others – people or institutions – to provide care. It is crucial in Polish context, where mothers generally choose between full-time employment and no employment. The part-time jobs are relatively scarce, which is often a characteristic of post-socialist countries.  Poland provides an interesting case study for gender inequalities with long history of full-time employment of women, rather traditional values and many seemingly progressive social policies.

In my paper, I would like to analyse the factors taken by couples under consideration and  shortly describe the decision-making process itself (the most common pattern). There are some insights, which I believe may be interesting also for researchers conducting quantitative analyses of division of labour and/or fertility.

Magda is an ESRC-funded PhD candidate in the Department of Gender Studies at London School of Economics and Political Science. Her PhD project focuses on division of labour among Polish couples with children. Magda’s broader research interests include: labour market, negotiations, parental employment and the combination of paid work and caring responsibilities. Prior to joining LSE Magda finished her studies at Warsaw School of Economics (Management) and at University of Warsaw (Sociology, European Studies). In addition,  she has a long history of project-based work, including more than 3-year experience in strategic consultancy.

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