Work-life balance in times of economic crisis and austerity

Abigail Gregory, Susan Milner, Jan Windebank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose – The purpose of this editorial is to provide an overview of the wider debates concerning the evolution of work-life balance practice and policy since the onset of the “Great Recession” of 2008 and to draw out some comparisons of the issues raised by the papers in the special issue by focusing particularly on the example of the UK.

Design/methodology/approach – The editorial analyses how the direction and pace of changes in work-life balance practice and policy varies between different national contexts and welfare regimes and also asks whether, within the same national context, the changes taking place are always consistent.

Findings – The special issue draws together an international overview of work-life balance measures which focuses particularly on measures for fathers, an EU-wide analysis of the use of flexible employment and its relationship with work-family conflict and a number of specific country case studies from Southern Europe where recession has been particularly severe (Spain and Italy) and the Southern hemisphere (Australia) where the recession has been less deep. It finds that economic crisis and austerity have resulted in a variety of labour market changes and policy responses in different national settings, some but not all of which map onto existing welfare regime typologies. The articles raise a wider set of questions about what type of policy best promotes employees' work-life balance. The editorial argues in favour of legislative support for work-life balance to help address structural inequalities.

Originality/value – This editorial and special issue is one of the first to review the small but growing literature on the effect of recession on individuals' experience of work-life balance, organisations' approach to work-life balance and reconciliation policy since 2008.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-541
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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