Influence of the character of work and family structure on work-family balance

Kairi Kasearu 

Work-family balance is a topical subject for social scientists and policy-makers that shapes people’s daily practices and subjective well-being. In the context of work-family balance the basic premise is that there are two distinct spheres: home and workplace in which people fulfil different roles. The balancing of the two spheres can be interpreted as creating conflicts since being active in one sphere reduces one’s ability to contribute to the other sphere. This premise is based on the limitations of time as a resource. A newer approach suggests that the roles that we assume in the family and workplace complement and enrich each other and that being active in two spheres increases individual wellbeing. However, because of the nature of the data the present article proceeds from the work-family conflict paradigm and aims to determine to what extent the character of work, family structure and individual factors influence the perception of a conflict deriving from a lack of time and work-related tension.  The article is based on the data of the European Social Survey from 2004 and 2010. On the basis of the empirical data the article comes to the following conclusions. Irregular working hours, overtime, and working in a leadership position increase the likelihood of experiencing the conflict deriving from work-related tension and lack of time. Indirectly the occupation and character of work can be determined on the basis of people’s education.  The study showed that people with higher education experience the conflict deriving from work-related tension and lack of time more frequently.  The influence of family structure was analysed on the basis of whether the family had children and whether the partner worked.  The results were gendered: having children makes balancing work and family more di cult for women, but not for men. Although it could be assumed that families with two wage-earners would find it more di cult to balance work and family, this is not confirmed in our results.