Quotation Steiber, Nadia, Haas, Barbara. 2018. Too much or too little work? Couples’ actual and preferred employment patterns and work hours mismatches in Europe. Zeitschrift für Familienforschung. 30 (3), 269-292.




The most widely cited European data on work hours mismatches at the couple level date back to the 1990s. The general gist of analyses of these data was that ‘overworked’ dual-earner couples frequently preferred work hours reductions, especially those with childcare responsibilities. This study uses more recent data from the European Social Survey (2010-12) to update the available evidence on actual and preferred breadwinner models and on the occurrence and determinants of work hours mismatches among couples in Europe. The focus is on differences between demographic groups and countries in the degree to which cohabiting couples are either underemployed (working fewer hours than desired) or overemployed (working more hours than desired). Our analyses show that about one third of couples are underemployed, while only one in ten report being overemployed. We identify low education and the presence of children below school age as risk factors for underemployment, whereas highly educated women and fathers of teenagers tend to be overemployed. In a comparison of 16 European countries, we find couples in Greece, Ireland, Slovenia, and Spain to be most at risk of experiencing underemployment – in the countries that were most strongly affected by the recession. The effects of children on the experience of hours mismatches are found to vary across Europe – a particularly strong association of children below school age with parental underemployment is observed in Central and Eastern Europe, Finland, and Germany and a particularly weak one in Great Britain, Greece, Ireland, and Sweden.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Zeitschrift für Familienforschung
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title Too much or too little work? Couples’ actual and preferred employment patterns and work hours mismatches in Europe
Volume 30
Number 3
Year 2018
Page from 269
Page to 292
Reviewed? Y
DOI https://doi.org/10.3224/zff.v30i3.03
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.budrich-journals.de/index.php/zff/article/view/32370


Haas, Barbara (Details)
Steiber, Nadia (Institut für Höhere Studien, Austria)
Department of Socioeconomics DP (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5322 National/Political economy (Details)
5325 Political economics (Details)
5353 Environmental economics (Details)
5364 Project management (Details)
5400 Sociology (Details)
5415 Economic sociology (Details)
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