Post-industrial labour markets, family, and gender role change

Scholars highlighting the 'negative' forces of globalization have a tendency to downplay, wrongly, the critical importance of from-within post-industrial social change on the effectiveness of the welfare state. This is where the work of Gosta Esping-Andersen (1999, 2009) makes an important contribution. Because of a massive reconfiguration of the life course over the past quarter century, traditionally passive social insurance schemes have been considerably weakened as key providers of welfare.

For most of the post-war era, the male-breadwinner welfare provision was based on a relatively standardized life cycle made up of three functionally differentiated phases, starting with maternal homemaking, followed by education and training until adolescence, after which a phase of stable (industrial) employment followed for adult males, to be concluded, finally, by a postactive phase of old age. Each phase was supported by different kinds of social policy measures, moving from passive family support for young households, education and training in preparation for stable employment, social insurance over the active phase, and old age pension provision covering the years in retirement. Over the post-war era, the key social risk was that a male breadwinner would lose his job. The policy focus was therefore income maintenance through social insurance and job and dismissal protection. Poverty risks were mostly related to people in old age and children in large families. Effective social risk mitigation was largely a question of Keynesian consumption smoothing, with brief periods of unemployment covered by social security, while intergenerational solidarity was achieved through steadily rising productivity. Beyond unemployment insurance, additional passive policy provisions included pension and family allowances. From the 1980s onwards, a number of endogenous societal changes in labour markets, gender relations, and family demography have come to undermine the effectiveness of male- breadwinner social policy provision.

In numerous publications, Gosta Esping-Andersen has argued that European societies are confronted with a range of 'new social risks', varying from rising old age dependency, unemployment hysteresis of low-skilled and older workers, insufficient social security coverage, precarious employment, human capital depletion also due to rapid technological change, retraining needs, youth and long-term unemployment, increasing levels of early school dropout, greater family instability and single parenthood, and unsatisfactory work- care-family reconciliation, especially for working mothers (Huber and Stephens, 2001; Esping-Andersen etal., 2002; Castles, 2004; Bonoli, 2005, 2007; Armingeon and Bonoli, 2006; Esping-Andersen, 2009; Gallie and Russel, 2009). The majority of these endogenous 'new' social risks are related to social changes, brought about by demographic ageing, gender and family change, increased ethnic and cultural diversity, and changes in the labour market associated with the rise of the knowledge-based service economy. Many 'new' social risks also include lifestyle habits, such as smoking and obesity, which in turn are also closely correlated with social class.

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