The value of family time: 2.10 euros for an hour with the kids | NOW

In the Netherlands, many young mothers work part-time and often earn less than men. “It has grown historically in this country,” says microeconomist Alex Theloudis of Tilburg University. But that’s not the only reason for the pay gap: time with their partners and children is often worth more to women than their careers.

On an average day, you sleep about eight hours, you work eight hours, and you have eight hours left for free time. Here you can work out, go to the cinema or have a drink with friends. This is even more complicated for young families because parents also raise their children in these ‘free’ eight hours.

There are usually two options here: The parents take turns spending time with the children or raising the child largely together. “A large proportion of Dutch people prefer the latter option,” says microeconomist Theloudis. “But in practice, it’s pretty hard because people have to work, too.”

Due to this limitation of leisure time, the common time becomes more and more valuable. Theloudis examined the exact value of his research Unity in the Householdperformed among three thousand to four thousand heterosexual Dutchmen.

For example, it appears that households with children are willing to hand over 1.20 euros per hour (10 percent of the hourly wage, 200 euros per month) for an hour with two people instead of alone. Spending time with the children is even worth 2.10 per hour (17 percent of the hourly wage, 350 euros per month).

Does not grow in career

People do not really spend those 1.20 euros or 2.10 euros, Theloudis explains. “It’s about the salary that people want to lose so they can be with (the kids) instead of alone.” Think about the choice between working part-time or rejecting a promotion. “For example, a promotion may mean that you have to work in the evenings and therefore can not be with the family. Many women then choose the latter.”

“Women earn less, so it sometimes makes more sense that they’d rather work part-time than the man.”

Alex Theloudis, Tilburg University

It is mainly women who are sacrificing their careers, Theloudis concludes in his research. “In the Netherlands, it has historically grown that women work less. They earn less, so it sometimes makes more sense that they also work part-time earlier than the man.”

This is also reflected in the figures from Statistics Denmark. CBS ‘website states that 4.5 million Dutch people (15 to 75 years) work part-time. Three quarters of these are women.

Theloudi’s research also shows that young mothers more often choose a ‘more boring’ job that provides more stable security. “People sometimes think that the pay gap is only due to the difference in gender. But an external factor, such as raising children, has a big impact on the pay gap.”

The desire of society

Joyce van der Wegen, a board member of the Dutch Women’s Council (NVR), also believes that women’s career choices are often influenced externally. “Part-time work is often expected by society. Childcare usually calls the mother first. And when looking for a child, people are sometimes also asked about the desire to have children with the expectation that the woman will then work part-time. While the idea among men still is that they must have the money in ‘.

To change this, Van der Wegen believes that role models that go against these expectations are needed. “Mothers in a leadership position can serve as inspiration. They show that motherhood can be combined with a career.” The employer or politicians must work together on this. “For example, turn a managerial position into a job division so that two people can both work part-time.”

This idea does not completely solve the pay gap, says Van der Wegen. “Women still get paid less than their direct male counterparts in some positions. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Closing the hole with free childcare

For example, the pay gap may be closed somewhat if care becomes cheaper or free. “Women work part-time or stop working so they can save on childcare. If it were free, some women might start working more.”

Theloudis agrees, but adds a warning. “The time the family spends together remains extremely important. The effect of cheaper childcare will therefore not be so great. The parents prefer to be together.”

It seems Van der Wegen is a good picture of the future. “My grandmother stopped working when the kids came, my mom worked part-time. How nice it would be if this generation could just work for four days and take care of the kids with the partner.”

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