Économie et Statistique n° 352-353 - 2002Social and professional time through time-use surveys
The labour supply and the breakdown of domestic and parental activities within the couple: a comparison between France and Sweden
The division of labour between spouses in French and Swedish couples remains traditional overall and is developing along the same lines. In both countries, women spend more time on domestic and parental activities and less time on professional activities than the men. However, this finding calls for a more detailed study from the point of view of each country's economic, institutional and societal contexts, especially to assess the extent to which these differences promote or hinder a more equal division of remunerated activities and domestic and parental tasks between spouses. The more detailed analyses show the division of labour to be more inequitable for French couples than for Swedish couples. The Swedes spend more time on domestic and parental activities than their French counterparts. Swedish women also adjust their labour supply more to that of their husbands. The presence of children of preschool age reduces the labour supply of women in both countries, but French mothers have more of a tendency to withdraw completely from the labour market following a birth. This difference can be explained by a more flexible parental leave system in Sweden, which shows more consideration for the possibilities of reintegration into the labour market in view of the couple's having young children. However, after the age of three, collective childminding mechanisms, concerning three-quarters of the children in both countries, encourage better male/female labour supply equality. In France, the more women work, the more equal the breakdown of domestic tasks, especially when these women have a high level of education. However, the contribution of French fathers to parental activities remains lower than that of Swedish fathers.