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Get print book. Heidi Gottfried , Laura Ann Reese. This edited collection assembles cutting-edge comparative policy research on contemporary policies relevant to gender and workplace issues. Gender and Work in Comparative Perspective thoroughly illustrates the richness of understanding that can be gained through the juxtaposition of a variety of research methodologies focused on a common theme. Furthermore, we repeated this procedure in each country.

In order to test this assumption, we ran mediational analyses using structural equation modelling. First, we examined the goodness of fit of the hypothesized mediational model and compared it with the goodness of fit of two alternative models. In the first alternative model, motherhood myths predict sexism that, in turn, predicts opposition.

After having established that the hypothesized model adequately fit the data, we examined the coefficients for the hypothesized relationships between variables. Inspection of the fit indices indicates that the hypothesized model fits the data better than the first alternative model in 16 out of the 18 analysed countries Table 3. The comparison of the fit indices indicates that the two models fit the data to almost the same extent in the two remaining countries i.

This result suggests that endorsement of motherhood myths is not a mere consequence of discrimination. The goodness of fit of the proposed mediational model having been established in 16 countries out of 18, we next examined the coefficients for the hypothesized relationships in these countries. Table 4 shows the results of the mediation analysis in the 16 retained countries. The direct effect is reduced in all countries when controlling for the indirect effect through motherhood myths.

As recommended in the literature, the indirect effects were subjected to follow-up bootstrap analyses using bootstrapping resamples [ 76 ]. In order to provide an overview of the proposed mediational model, we next present the analyses conducted on the total of the 16 countries retained. In addition, the unstandardized estimate for the indirect effect excludes zero.

The moderated mediation model was estimated using a multiple group approach. The standardized coefficients for the total effect are. The unstandardized estimates for the indirect effect is. The difference between the indirect effect in and is not significant -. We repeated the moderated mediation analysis in each country.

As can be seen in Table 5 , the indirect effect reaches significance in each survey wave in all countries. The indirect effect is not moderated by the survey year, except in Great Britain where the indirect effect, although still significant, decreased between and , and Bulgaria, Poland, and Russia where the indirect effect slightly increased between and The difference between the indirect effect among men and women is not statistically significant. We repeated this analysis in each country separately see Table 6. The only exception is Poland. In this country, the indirect effect is stronger for the female than for the male respondents.

Using a large representative sample of respondents from various countries the present research documented a psychosocial process of justification of discrimination against working women with children. In addition, test of the moderated mediation indicated that the indirect effect reaches significance in each survey wave in almost all countries examined without substantial difference. Only in Bulgaria, Poland, and Russia did the indirect effect slightly increase between and , suggesting that motherhood myths is more a justification for the expression of sexism nowadays than in the late 20 th century.

Great Britain shows a reverse pattern with a slight decrease of the indirect effect between the two waves. The present research also considered participants' gender as a potential moderator of the indirect effect, and results indicated that the process of justification of discrimination against working women does not differ as a function of the respondents' gender.

The only exception to this finding is Poland where the indirect effect is indeed stronger among women than among men. An examination of the specific features of female employment in this country sheds some light on this result. Young women in Poland are better educated than young men and are more likely to have permanent employment than men [ 77 ]. At the same time however, working women spend on average two and a half hours per day on unpaid work more than men—which is reflected by the fact that more than 1 in 3 women reduce their paid hours to part-time, while only 1 in 10 men do the same—and are predominant users of parental leave [ 3 ].

It is noteworthy that reduced working hours and long periods of leave hinders female career progression through less training, fewer opportunities for advancement, occupational segregation, and lower wages [ 78 , 79 ]. The fact that women appear even more inclined than men to rely on motherhood myths to justify gender discrimination is consistent with a system justification perspective [ 63 ].

Drawing on the logic of cognitive dissonance theory, system justification theory in its strong form posits that members of disadvantaged groups may be even more likely than members of advantaged groups to support existing social inequalities [ 64 ]. The rational is that members of disadvantaged groups would experience psychological discomfort stemming from the concurrent awareness of their ingroup's inferiority within the system, and of their ingroup's contribution to that system. Justification of the status quo would therefore reduce dissonance [ 80 ].

The finding that women strongly rely on motherhood myths to justify gender discrimination precisely in a country with strong motherhood penalty can be regarded as an expression of this system justification motive. The present research sheds new light on the effect of macrolevel inequality on the justification of discrimination, and more broadly on the process of legitimation of gender inequalities [ 9 , 81 ].

As an explanation, the authors argued that the less traditional the gender division of labour is in a society, the more people need to express their freedom of maintaining these roles and to defend the gender system, leading to the endorsement of gender differentiation in the private sphere. However, the present research allows an alternative explanation for this seemingly paradoxical finding to be suggested. At a macrolevel, higher gender equality conveys strong suppressive factors which reduce the expression of prejudice by demonstrating that the society promotes egalitarianism between women and men.

In parallel, the gender specialization in the division of the household responsibilities and especially regarding childcare provides a strong justifying factor which releases prejudice by emphasising essential differences between gender groups [ 26 ]. Thus, the counterintuitive finding that the more egalitarian a society is, the less people support gender equality at home may indeed reflect an attempt to justify the release of genuine sexism.

Conversely, it is likely that a less egalitarian society brings with it some degree of tolerance towards gender discrimination, reducing the need to rely on justifications to express sexism. A closer look at our results regarding Norway and Japan supports this view. Norway and Japan appears as especially contrasted regarding gender equality, in particular with regard to economic participation and opportunity [ 1 ]. According to the World Economic Forum, Norway has the second smallest gender gap in the world. In addition, gender equality promotion is frequently mobilised both in political debates and in mainstream society [ 55 ].

For its part, Japan ranks st on the overall gender gap index, which makes Japan well below average compared to other advanced industrial countries [ 83 ]. Besides this gender gap, consistent research reports a unique trivialisation of anti-gender equality discourses in the media [ 84 ] and of gender-based discriminatory behaviours in the workplace, including sexual harassment [ 85 ]. This result gives support to the assumption that macrolevel gender in equality affects the psychological process of justification at the individual level.

Future studies should clarify how macrolevel inequalities impact societal norms, which in turn influence legitimation processes. It is also worth noting that the justifying function of motherhood myths is established in all analysed countries despite some notable differences between parental leaves policies and practices. For instance, the United States are the only OECD country to offer no nationwide entitlement to paid leave, neither for mothers nor for fathers [ 86 ]. On the other hand, the Nordic nations, with Norway and Sweden in the lead, are in the vanguard of progressive policy-making regarding shared parental leave entitlement: Sweden was the first country in the world in to offer fathers the possibility of taking paid parental leave, quickly joined by Norway in [ 87 ].

More recently in , Germany introduced a new law aiming at encouraging shared parental leave. In practice, the length of the financial support for parental leave can increase from 12 to 14 months provided that fathers use the parental benefit for at least 2 months. Recent research aiming at investigating whether German men who take parental leave are judged negatively in the workplace revealed that, in contrast with women who experience penalty for motherhood [ 40 ], fathers do not face backlash effect when they take a long parental leave [ 88 ].

The authors concluded that "gender role attitudes have changed". Tempering this view, the present study indicates that even in countries promoting incentives for fathers to take parental leave, motherhood myths—and specifically the belief that mother's work threatens the family—are still a justification for gender discrimination in the workplace. With regard to practices, it should be noted that shared parental leave policies, whose purpose is to foster gender equality in the labor market, often fail to meet this objective, with the majority of fathers actually taking the minimum length of leave entitlement, or no parental leave at all, and the majority of mothers still facing the majority of childcare [ 88 ].

Once again, more research is needed to document the process of mutual influences between changing family policies and the maintenance of the gender status quo via justifying beliefs. Although the hypothesized mediational process is supported by the data, and is in line with previous experimental findings [ 19 ], conclusion regarding causality are necessarily limited due to the correlational nature of the research. We hope that these preliminary findings will open the way to experimental studies allowing for a conclusion on the direction of causality between variables and the further documenting of the behavioural consequences of the endorsement of motherhood myths.

For instance, future studies should consider the extent to which motherhood myths interact with organizational norms to constrain the hiring and promotion of women. Castilla and Benard [ 89 ] showed that when an organization explicitly values meritocracy, managers favour a male employee over an equally qualified female employee. One explanation for this seemingly paradoxical results lies in the legitimation function of meritocracy [ 17 ] which is likely to release the expression of sexism. We suggest that when organizations promote egalitarian norms, or put differently, when organizations set suppression factors, then motherhood myths may serve as a justification for unequal gender treatment regarding career outcomes.

Due to constraints related to the availability of data in the ISSP base, only one indicator was used to capture sexism.

3 Things You Should Know About Workplace Gender Bias

This can be regarded as a limitation providing that sexism is typically defined as a complex construct [ 20 ]. We argue that measuring the gender differentiation component of sexism through a single item represents a valid approach, as suggested by previous research indicating that single-item measures may be as reliable as aggregate scales [ 90 — 94 ]. However, using a multiple-item measure of sexism in future studies would provide a more comprehensive examination of the relations between the different components of sexism and opposition to gender equality in the workplace.

The present research focused on opposition to mothers' work as an indicator of gender discrimination.

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However, evidence suggests that motherhood myths may justify discrimination towards women as a whole rather than mothers only. First, as previously mentioned social roles create gender expectations [ 95 ] so that all women are expected to become mothers [ 47 ]. Furthermore, research using implicit association test indicate that people automatically associate women with family role [ 96 ].

As a consequence, it is plausible that employers rely on motherhood myths to discriminate against women in general regarding recruitement, performance evaluation, and rewards, arguing that women will sooner or later be less involved in work and less flexible for advancement than men [ 97 ]. This justification is compatible with the employers' reluctance to hire women and promote them to the highest positions even in the absence of productivity differences [ 98 ].

In this study we were able to document that motherhood myths are a widespread justification for gender discrimination in the workplace, including in countries with anti-discrimination laws and advanced family policies. From this regard, the present findings help understand the paradoxical effects of family-friendly policies on women's economic attainment.

Mandel and Semyonov [ 99 ], using data from 20 countries, found evidence that family policies aimed at supporting women's economic independence, and including provision of childcare facilities and paid parental leaves, increase rather than decrease gender earning gaps. This unexpected effect is due to the fact that family policies are disproportionally used by mothers rather than fathers, with the consequence that mothers are concentrated in part-time employment, female-typed occupations, yet underrepresented in top positions.

The authors concluded that "there are distinct limits to the scope for reducing gender wage inequality in the labor market as long as women bear the major responsibility for household duties and child care" p. We would add that there are strong barriers to the scope for attaining gender equality at home as long as motherhood myths are uncritically accepted and used as justification for unequal gender arrangements. Recent works provided evidence of the efficiency of interventions aimed at reducing sexist beliefs [ ] and at recognizing everyday sexism [ ].

In the same vain, interventions aimed at informing people that motherhood myths are socially constructed and maintained [ 33 ], and that they affect women's advancement and fathers' involvement [ 35 ], would represent a first step towards the reduction of discrimination by depriving individuals of a justification for gender inequalities.

If, at an individual level, this process allows discrimination to be exhibited without appearing prejudiced [ 10 ], at the group and societal levels, such a process may contribute to the legitimation and reinforcement of the hierarchical power structure [ 63 ]. Browse Subject Areas? Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field.

Abstract The issue of gender equality in employment has given rise to numerous policies in advanced industrial countries, all aimed at tackling gender discrimination regarding recruitment, salary and promotion. Psychosocial processes involved in justified discrimination According to several lines of research [ 9 — 13 ], the expression of prejudice in contexts where social and political anti-discrimination values are prevalent implies justifications.

Motherhood myths as a justification for gender discrimination Compared with other intergroup relations, gender relations present some unique features e. Exploring gender and time as possible moderators of the hypothesized mediation Besides the test of the main mediational hypothesis, the present research sought to explore time and gender as possible moderators of the assumed relationship between sexism, motherhood myths and discrimination. Measures The main variables used in this study are the following: Sexism. Motherhood myths. Step 1: Hierarchical regression analysis Inspection of the correlation matrix Table 1 indicates that all the correlations are positive, ranging from moderate to strong.

Download: PPT. Table 1. Means, standard deviations and correlation matrix of the indicators. Table 2. Step 2: Confirmatory factor analyses We conducted a CFA to check the construct validity of the proposed measurement model. Step 3. Mediation analysis Overview of the analysis strategy.

Equity in the Workplace

Goodness of fit of the models. Table 3. Goodness-of-fit indices for the hypothesized mediational model and alternative models by country. Test of the relationships between variables. Table 4. Standardized maximum likelihood coefficients estimated for the hypothesized model by country. Fig 1. Step 4. Moderated mediation analyses Indirect effect through survey waves. Table 5. Standardized maximum likelihood coefficients estimated for the total and indirect effects as a function of the survey wave. Table 6. Discussion Using a large representative sample of respondents from various countries the present research documented a psychosocial process of justification of discrimination against working women with children.

Equity in the Workplace: Gendering Workplace Policy Analysis - Google Books

Limitations and future directions Although the hypothesized mediational process is supported by the data, and is in line with previous experimental findings [ 19 ], conclusion regarding causality are necessarily limited due to the correlational nature of the research. Practical implications In this study we were able to document that motherhood myths are a widespread justification for gender discrimination in the workplace, including in countries with anti-discrimination laws and advanced family policies.

Supporting information. S1 Table. Comparative test of the goodness of fit of the hypothesized measurement model vs. S2 Table. Test of the invariance of the measurement model across survey waves by country. S3 Table. Test of the invariance of the measurement model across gender groups by count. S1 Supplementary Information.

Additional details concerning the way the research was conducted. References 1. The Global Gender Gap Report: Geneva: World Economic Forum; Is there a glass ceiling over Europe? Such climates will have led to specific policy measures regarding child care and leave programmes and may independently affect work—family conflict.

We employ random intercept multilevel analyses to take account of the nested structure of individuals within countries. The null-model not presented demonstrates that experienced work—family conflict significantly differs across countries, although most of the variance in work—family conflict is situated at the individual level. All models include a random intercept and a random effect of either gender or education in the interaction models, all other effects are fixed.

Note that though the variance components of the random slopes of gender and education are not significant, our theoretical reasons to consider cross-level interactions allow testing these interactions Snijders and Bosker Models 2 and 3 include cross-level interaction effects between gender and policies and between education and policies respectively to assess to what extent family policies succeed in closing gaps.

Models 3a and 3b present the cross-level interaction effects between education and policies for mothers and fathers separately, to explore whether the effect of policy on education might be different for men and women. In all countries, the mean level of work-to-family conflict is higher than the perceived family-to-work conflict. In Ireland and Portugal, respondents report on average the lowest level of work-to-family conflict, whereas parents in Slovakia and Greece experience on average the highest levels of work-to-family conflict.

Overall, we may conclude that a higher level of work-to-family conflict relates to a higher level of family-to-work conflict. As mentioned before, the content but also consequences of these two different family policies are complex. Ireland and the United Kingdom score rather low on both, which clearly reflects liberal welfare policies. Estonia scores highest in the sample on leave provision, whereas its child care coverage is comparable to the level provided in the United Kingdom.

The gender difference is 0. Separate analyses for both sexes see also Models 3a and 3b show that this effect is entirely driven by women. Thus for mothers a fulltime stay-at-home partner is more stressful than a regular working partner. However, parents with two children at home experience significantly more work-to-family conflict compared to parents taking care of one child at their home. Conducting the analyses for fathers and mothers separately shows that more children at home is predominantly stressful for fathers.

As expected see also Stier et al. In contrast, policies supporting maternity and parental leave do not seem to alleviate work-to-family conflict. A robustness check revealed that including a quadratic term of parental leave length does not alter this conclusion. In sum, the alleviating effect of family policies is only found with respect to child care support and not with respect to leave provision. In Model 2, we present the cross-level interactions as formulated in hypothesis 4. The interaction effects are non-significant, hence we have to reject our hypothesis that mothers benefit more from care and leave policies than fathers.

Apparently, the gender gap in work-to-family conflict remains constant, even if welfare states provide generous support for caring families. Model 3 shows the results of the cross-level interactions with education and policy. The alleviating effect of child care policies on work-to-family conflict is apparently stronger for lower educated, while higher educated parents benefit less from supporting policies see Fig. The relation between child care policy and work-to-family conflict by educational level lowest and highest level of education.

In order to gain a better understanding of the gendered effects of family policies, we explore in Models 3a and 3b whether the cross-level interaction between education on the one hand and leave and care policy on the other hand differs between fathers and mothers. However, for mothers the educational gap remains unchanged. Compared to higher educated fathers, lower educated fathers benefit more from care policies in terms of reducing experienced work-to-family conflict.

Perhaps the lower levels of financial stress when two parents can stay active in the labor market due to generous child care facilities is especially relevant for lower educated men. This seems to be in line with previous findings that working women more often take care of family tasks, and therefore experience a higher level of family-to-work conflict than men. In addition, the findings in Model 1 show that people with more working hours experience higher levels of family-to-work conflict.

In contrast, policy supporting maternity and parental leave has no significant effect on the level of family-to-work conflict. Model 2 estimates the cross-level interactions of family policy and gender. The findings show that the impact of policy supporting leave on family-to-work conflict does not significantly differ between fathers and mothers.

This implies that support for family leave does not reduce the stress experienced due to family responsibilities interfering with work for men and women differently, which is in contrast with hypothesis 4. The results also show that the gender gap in family-to-work conflict is insensitive to policy supporting child care as well. In Model 3 we test whether the impact of family policy differs along educational levels.

Family policies appear to be more helpful for the lower educated as compared to the higher educated in reducing family-to-work conflict, thereby widening the educational gap in family-to-work conflict. The relation between child care policy and family-to-work conflict by educational level lowest and highest level of education. The relation between parental leave policy and family-to-work conflict by educational level lowest and highest level of education. Modeling this association separately for men and women leads to similar findings Models 3a and 3b , yet, especially for fathers we find that leave provision and child care are less beneficial for higher educated compared to the lower educated.

In sum, the educational gaps in family-to-work conflict are larger in countries with generous family policies, especially for fathers. Future research might focus more on this relation, especially by investigating selected countries for which the distinct processes influencing the gender composition in higher and lower education, employment participation of parents and the association with family policies can be decomposed more clearly than in a multi-country study.

This study examined gender and educational differences in work—family conflict and used a comparative approach to test whether family policies, in particular support for child care and leave from paid work, are capable of reducing work—family conflict as well as the gender and educational gaps in work—family conflict. We analyzed 20 European countries with multilevel techniques using the European Social Survey We present three main conclusions and discuss their implications. The first conclusion concerns group differences in work—family conflict. We found that mothers and higher educated respondents experience more work—family conflict compared to fathers and lower educated respectively.

These findings are quite similar for work-to-family and family-to-work conflict levels. Moreover these findings are in line with the role stress theory from which we derived that women and higher educated would suffer most both in terms of time-based and strain-based conflict. Comparative time use research suggests that expectations of involved parenting as well as work demands both increased for highly educated workers Sayer et al.

Our findings inform this literature by showing that objective time demands translate into subjectively perceived stress. The second conclusion refers to the extent to which support for child care and family leave are effective in reducing work—family conflict. Investigating the impact of specific types of family supportive policies provided important and novel insights.

Most notably, not all types of policies that are usually regarded as family supportive indeed help families cope with work family stress. We found that child care support alleviates both work-to-family and family-to-work conflict. In contrast, leave policies did not affect the extent to which parents in Europe experience stress from combining work and family roles. Admittedly, our research did not focus on working hours or fertility behaviour, but on subjectively experienced work—family conflict.

However, it is noteworthy that policies supporting temporary absence from paid work do not reduce stress-levels resulting from combining work and family roles. However, this argument does not hold in the present study as it includes the group which combines work and family only. Within countries, extended leave policies are often a substitute for extensive day care provision and vice versa compare Fig. Our analyses suggest that child care support is the more effective policy when the desired policy outcome is helping families balance work and care.

The third conclusion refers to the moderating impact of family policies on the gender and educational gaps in work—family conflict. Cross-level interaction estimates showed that neither child care support nor leave policies could reduce the gender gap. These policies, often referred to as female friendly Stier and Lewin-Epstein , do not succeed in improving the position of women relative to men, leaving women in underprivileged positions. The gender gaps in work—family conflict that emerge from our models are independent of gender differences in working hours.

A plausible explanation for the gender gap may be gender differences in caring hours with women spending more time in unpaid care work than men do. As a consequence, women assume more responsibility and tend to be more absorbed mentally in their caring role, as compared to men Bielby and Bielby In stimulating female labour force participation, the family policies we studied generally aimed at gender equality in participation in the labour market.

For instance, supporting women to pursue higher occupational positions, and stimulating men to share caring tasks more equally with their wives. Examples of such policies are leave quotas in the Scandinavian countries Haas and Rostgaard Cross-level interactions also revealed that generous support for child care or parental leave did not lead to smaller educational differences in work—family conflict. In contrast, the low educated benefited more from extended family policies as compared to the highly educated. These findings suggest that financial incentives and job security may partially explain social differentiation in the alleviating impact of family policy on work—family conflict.

We argued that leave policies may be especially beneficial for the financially better situated, as in higher educated parents. Since our findings do show that paid leave especially alleviates work—family conflict for the lower educated, this seems a fruitful starting point for future research. The findings suggest that our financial argument holds for child care but not for leave. An alternative explanation might be that higher educated parents are more sensitive to the normative message in policies that promote combining work and care as this ideal matches their ambitions and values more strongly than those of lower educated.

In such countries, higher educated fathers may experience more work—family conflict because they more strongly feel pressured to be involved in both work and family roles compared to lower educated men. If this speculation is valid, it implies that it will be difficult for policy makers to reduce educational differences in subjectively perceived work—family conflict, because influencing ambitions is harder than influencing behaviour. It is important to note that results in this study refer to working parents only and that generalisations to larger populations are not warranted.

Possibly, the group we studied is selective, for instance in the sense that only people who do not suffer too much from work—family conflict remain in the labour force and hence in our sample. Some couples we observe may already have reduced conflict by postponing or limiting fertility McGinnity and Whelan Others, most importantly mothers, may have reduced paid employment hours or taken up jobs offering lower pay in order to cope Gash Prior research Stier et al.

The preferred design to deal with this problem would require longitudinal data, which are scarce in comparative research. Another consequence of the cross-sectional design of this study is that we cannot be completely sure that policies causally affect the outcomes we are interested in. This approach therefore produces purer effects of specific policy measures.

We explicitly also acknowledge that our indicator of parental leave is ambiguous against the light of research findings that show that relatively short periods of well-paid leave encourage mothers to stay attached to the labour market, while longer periods of low-paid leave encourage mothers to stay away from the labour market for extended periods of home-care leave. Future research may want to explicitly focus on this issue. We followed the arguments of Misra et al.

Our analyses show that disaggregating policies is necessary for understanding whether and how policy measures work. Most notably, our approach proved fruitful in showing distinct effects of child care support and leave policies for different social groups. As expected, it explained part of the education effect. When leaving out regime types, the effects of the policies are in the same directions, but the effect of child-care does not reach significance, suggesting that the child care effect is suppressed by regime type. Therefore, it is unlikely that this conclusion is driven by artificially high levels of work-family conflict in the sample of countries with generous leave programmes that would result from non-observance of those individuals who supposedly experience less work-family conflict because they make use of leave programmes.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Social Indicators Research. Soc Indic Res. Published online May 5.

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Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Accepted Apr This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract In modern welfare states, family policies may resolve the tension between employment and care-focused demands. Keywords: Work—family conflict, Gender and educational differences, Social policy, Cross-national.

Introduction Most modern societies are characterized by a considerable proportion of dual-earner couples combining work and family obligations resulting in work—family conflict Gornick and Meyers ; McGinnity and Whelan Theoretical Background and Hypotheses Work—family conflict is argued to originate from interrole conflict. Gender Differences Both time-based and strain-based conflicts lead us to expect that working mothers experience higher levels of change in work—family conflict than working fathers Hypothesis 1.

Educational Differences The reasoning behind the different types of conflict leads us to expect that highly educated employed parents experience higher levels of work—family conflict than poorly educated employed parents Hypothesis 2. The Impact of Family Policies Different social contexts, partly characterized by different national family policies, may affect the level of work—family conflict people experience Gornick and Meyers ; Strandh and Nordenmark ; Van der Lippe et al.

Open in a separate window. Data and Methodology We use data from the European Social Survey ESS round 5, , which includes questions on work, family and well-being in the supplementary questionnaire. Individual-Level Independent Variables The main variables of interest are gender female coded as 1 and educational level. Source : ESS Methods and Models We employ random intercept multilevel analyses to take account of the nested structure of individuals within countries.

Two children at home 0.