Transitional Phase or a New Balance? Working and Caring by Mothers With Young Children in the Netherlands

Frits van Wel, Trudie Knijn

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In recent years in the Netherlands, mothers’ labor participation has increased sharply. This article examines which factors influence mothers’ employment rates and the division of household and caring responsibilities between parents. From research among 1,285 women with young children, it appears that cultural factors rather than economic motives or institutional obstacles offer the most important explanation for whether they work or not. A culture of care dominates more amongwomen with lower than higher education levels, which clarifies the more limited labor participation of lower educated mothers. A comparison is also drawnbetween the various earner types of family. It appears that the one-and-a-half earner type of family with the man working full-time and the woman part-time is particularly popular among women with lesser education levels. However, for women with higher educations, the ideal is for both parents to work part-time, but for the time being, they have not yet been able to realize this.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • the Netherlands
  • labor participation
  • care
  • working mothers

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