Transcript: Parents working out work: An examination of families’ interactions with paid employment in Australia today

AIFS seminar :Parents working out work: An examination of families’ interactions with paid employment in Australia today - Wednesday 27 November 2013

Audio transcript (edited)

The following audio presentation is brought to you by the Australian Institute of Family Studies as part of our monthly seminar series in which we showcase national and international research related to the family. The seminars are designed to promote a forum for discussion and debate. They are open to the public and free of charge.

Seminar facilitated & speaker introduced by Ben Edwards

Dr Jennifer Baxter

So thanks very much everybody for coming today and thanks to Alan for giving me this opportunity to present some of my work about parents and employment. As Ben has noted, this is going to be a very data heavy presentation. It's going to, I guess, present some of the work that I have already done about parents and employment, but take it a little bit further, making use of some of the data that we've sort of had available to us that we haven't actually managed to put into any publications yet.

I mean I'm very aware that in working with data the stories sort of, of the women underlying all these data, are kind of missing and that's - it is the downside of working with statistics like this. I do appreciate that there are many, many stories about how families do engage in paid work, that we kind of - we don't see in these statistics, and I - while I love working with the data and I am extremely appreciative of having that information, I really love the opportunities that we have and I've been working with Kelly Hand who's in the audience, where we can actually sort of take it a little bit further and put some qualitative stories behind this sort of information. Unfortunately I haven't been able to really do that today, but it is I think a way that would be really great to go in the future with this sort of research.

So the presentation does in particular draw upon and extend the work that we did earlier in the year in the Australian Family Trends series, the first of those publications parents working out from which this - the type that this presentation was taken. That publication drew quite heavily on Australian Bureau of Statistics census data, but we were - we were able to get a whole lot more data around parents in employment than we were able to put in that publication. So that's where - I'll be presenting a lot of that information here.

I'll also be, hopefully, if I don't run out of time, be able to show you some information from a research report that we'll be releasing the week after next about childcare and maternal employment trends, and then there's a whole lot of other information through the presentation. Some other ABS data and as been mentioned, LSAC data and also from HILDA, the Household Income Labour Dynamics in Australia study, and I'll - the formal acknowledgment of those data is at the end of the presentation. So for those of you that don't necessarily work in the parental employment space, you might sort of not, I guess is so much aware of all the issues and you know, why do we care about parents in employment? Why do we care about it at the Australian Institute of Family Studies?

Well I guess the initial thing that we think about when we think about parents' employment is the immediate effect on income. So parents without income, families without income, we've got concerns about joblessness, about poverty, child poverty, and then there are also the long term consequences for those - for women without - women in particular, but men also, without jobs who might have then difficulties saving for a retirement and being able to invest in other ways for example in superannuation. So just to show you the - that direct relationship, it shows you the relationship between parental employment in equivalised household income for families with children under 15 years, using the latest 2011 census data.

You can see at the bottom of the graph these are families - couple families in which both parents are working fulltime, and they're much more likely than other families to have income in that highest income bracket, which is $1000 or more per week. Then at the top of the graph you've got the families without employment. You've got jobless couple families and you've got single parent jobless families, and they're much less likely to have incomes in that top range and very likely to have incomes in the two bottom ranges that I've got there. Interestingly the next group down, the single parents who are part-time workers, actually are the most likely to have incomes in the lowest income bracket in these data, which is I think something that would be very interesting to follow up further.

So then you just see the more - the more employment basically in families, the more income in those families. So this is just sort of, you know, one of the keys - key reasons we're interested in parents' employment. There are also some really big picture issues that we're hearing about all the time, and I won't go into them in detail, but we hear about these in the press all the time. The aging of the population leads us to be concerned about what's happening in the labour market. We're always hearing about the productivity of the labour market and you know, do we need to have policies that bring women back into the labour market, mothers back into the labour market sooner to boost the productivity of the labour market. And then concerns over blowouts and welfare expenditure, in particular around single parent pension. You know, these are some of the - these bigger issues where the focus comes in on parents' employment.

So then we're also concerned about parents' employment because we know that some families do have trouble or need supports and help in managing their work and family commitments. When families don't have access to the policies that they need, this might mean that families parents can't engage in the labour market, in particular this might mean withdrawal from employment or just from not being able to re-enter employment once families have children, and this usually affects mothers more than fathers. Because we have - we do have very gendered roles still within Australia, if we don't have good supports around work and family, this can sort of just, I guess, imbed these gendered roles further, and there are gendered - the effects of sort of these gendered attitudes around work and family can apply in the household, in the family, when it comes to men's and women's decisions about care.

It also can make a difference in the workplace. You know, if you've got a supportive workplace around women in employment, that can be very different in terms of take-up of work family policies than working in a workplace that has different attitudes around whether women should be in employment and whether fathers should actually be taking up family friendly work arrangements. And then we've got the fact that parents' employment, if it's - if they're struggling to manage their work and family commitments, there's going to be stress, perhaps leading even to mental health issues, time pressure. This can then spill over to children, and work I've done with Lyndall Strazdins has shown, using the longitudinal study of Australian Children, that children do detect this, and I know work that Lyndall has done with other colleagues has shown that this has flow-on effects to children's outcomes.

Then there's also the possibility that those of us with young children, where we often rely on grandparents to look after the - these children. This might have spill over effects to grandparents as well, especially given the nature of the labour market these days where grandparents are increasingly entering or staying on in employment for longer themselves, so they're possibly - you know, they've got conflicting duties there around caring for grandchildren and work to consider.

So moving on then to look at sort of what is actually going on in Australia with employment, this is just some data on female employment. The darker bar shows you the percentage of females employed in - across OECD countries. Just the average, and then the percentage employed for Australia. You can see that women in Australia have a relatively high employment rate when they're young, and this is associated with access to part-time work and a lot is students working part-time. But then Australia's female employment rate is somewhat lower than the OECD average through those childbearing years. Not quite as - I think the - the press picked up on some statistics on this that we produced last - or we published last week, and were talking about it as Australia being one of the lowest in the developed world.

I think that was a little bit of a slight exaggeration, but you can see we do have somewhat lower employment rates and you can see here, not needing to take in the detail, but these are just a few - a few of the OECD countries, just to show the variability and sort of where Australia sits in that range. At the bottom there, the lowest point - the lowest line is for Korea. They have very low female employment rates, and the top one there is Sweden. Australia is kind of similar to the United Kingdom in these data.

The other thing to say about female employment in Australia is the high use of part-time work, and this just shows you again for the OECD countries and for Australia, of employed women the percentage that are working part-time, and so across the range of ages, women in Australia have relatively high rates of part-time work, but especially around those child rearing ages. And again if we look at a range of selected OECD countries, there is a quite a bit of diversity there. The Netherlands stands out by far from the others as having very high rates of part-time work.

Moving on to talk about some trends, now we're going to be - this is where I'm going to be using the census data. We do have census data in this particular form for the last 20 years, but I'm very mindful this is a very small slice of time when it comes to Australia's history, especially when we're talking about changes in maternal employment, which have been increasing for some time in Australia. So just picking the last 20 years is not - certainly not a complete history of what's been going on with female employment, but it's just interesting just to focus in on that more recent past.

So these statistics that I'll be presenting are looking at differences for couple and single parents, for mothers and for fathers, and a great deal of what I'll be presenting does take account of age of youngest child. As we can see in this first graph, just looking at the age of youngest child, differences across all the graphs. You can see - and we always see this with mothers' employment, that employment rates are lowest when mothers have very young children, and they gradually increase, as the children get older. I think it's interesting to note that we don't see a very enormous jump in mothers' employment rates as the youngest child reaches school age, which I often hear when people are talking about mothers' employment, that there is a big increase or inflow of mothers back to the labour market when their youngest child is in school.

I actually think the statistics don't back that up. I think it's much more a gradual return to work amongst mothers across the range of ages from young babies and onwards, and these data show that fairly clearly. So we've got three years of data here for couples and single mothers. So there have been increases for both groups of mothers from 91 to 2001 to 2011. So some of these increases will be related to mothers' higher levels of educational attainment. Delay in childbearing, so having a greater increase of employment before they start childbearing. Smaller family size, perhaps related to greater availability of formal childcare.

You can see also that there's quite a significant increase for the single mothers between 2001 and 2011 there that has narrowed the gap considerably between couple and single mothers, and this may be related to the welfare to work sort of changes that came in around these times that meant mothers couldn't remain on income support payment until their children were 16, without undertaking some sort of labour market activity. So I guess the other thing just to note is the difference between couple and single mothers here, and there is for most - for especially for the younger - mothers with the younger children, there are quite strong differences between couple and single mothers. To some extent this is to do with the different characteristics of these mothers. The single mothers on average have lower levels of educational attainment. They also - they have more difficulty in accessing - well with their childcare situation, given that they can't share the childcare with a resident partner. There was something else I was going to say about single parents, but I've lost it, so we'll move on.

Fathers' employment. So with this data that we got from the census, we were actually able to present some information on single fathers. We can't often do this because the sample surveys that we usually rely on just have - have almost no single dads in them, so we can usually not present information about single dads. So it's interesting to see what this information looks like. As with the mothers, the single dads' employment rates are considerably lower than the single - than the couple dads. I don't know the data well enough to be able to explain to you why the employment rates were lowest for single dads in 2001, rather than 1991. So there's a different trend there and I - you know, it would be I guess something that we could do further it to have a bit of a look at what might have contributed to that.

There is a little bit of an age of youngest child effect too for these single dads, which we don't ever see for couple dads. So again, these are pretty new data even to me, so I think it's something that we could explore further, particularly when the more detailed census data become available to us. I think I'll just - I know I'm going to run out of time. I know I was overly ambitious in how much material I put into my presentation, so I will very so often skip over a slide. So as I - as I noted previously, part-time work is very common among mothers in Australia, and this slide shows this very clearly for families with children less than 18 years.

I think what's really interesting about these data, is the green bar there shows you the percentage of mothers who are working full time. So looking at couple mothers, you actually see pretty much no increase in the percentage of mothers working full-time from 1991 to 2011. Single mothers we do see a little bit of an increase from 21 per cent to 24 per cent. But I think it's really interesting that over this whole 20-year period, the whole increase in mothers' employment has come about through increases in part-time work alone. There is a small chunk there in each of these bars, women who are employed but are away from work. So that's sort of women who have said at the time of the census they have a job but they're not actually at work. I'm going to talk about that more later. You'll just see it appearing, but I'll explain it - the trends in those categories a bit later on.

So for dads the situation is really different. So we've got the vast majority of dads are fulltime even - and so the height of these bars is the percentage of dads who are employed. So this is why the bars are lower for the single dads. So you can see at - if - as a proportion of the dads who are employed, the part-time work actually is much more prominent amongst the single dads. Now I don't - I don't have the evidence from these data, but I would expect that this is actually much more related to under employment for these dads, that a lot of these dads actually would prefer to be working fulltime hours, whereas for mums, there's considerable evidence that mothers - a lot of mothers prefer part-time hours, and I suspect this is not the case for all these dads working part-time.

Looking at how this then translates into trends in couple level employment, if we just put that information together about mums and dads and see what's changed from 91 to 2011. At first glance you pretty much don't see much happening, which I always find really interesting because I sort of think there's this perception out there that things have been moving really fast and you know, in an incredible way in the labour force, but really, when you look at these family level data, there's - things are quite stable. Once you start looking at the detail, there are some shifts and so you can see here - so the top bar are the percentage - the top category are the percentage in which both parents are working fulltime. That's around 21 per cent, 20 to 21 per cent, and that hasn't changed at.

Then the next group down are the percentage where one parent is working fulltime and another parent working part-time, and that's changed. So that was 27 per cent in 1991 and now it's 34 per cent, so we have seen this increase in this - what is sort of generally called - well I'll call it the modified male breadwinner model. It's a little bit wrong because in these data here I haven't actually distinguished between whether the dad's fulltime or the mum's fulltime, but we know and we'll see some data on sort of to what extent there are - we've got female breadwinner families and so on, later on in these data. So most - most of what we're looking at here is sort of this modified male breadwinner family. We have seen then a reduction in the next category down, which is kind of the more breadwinner families, which were 32 per cent of couple families in 91 down to 28 per cent.

The next picture's much more complicated, so I'm just warning you. It's a lot more colours. So - and this is - I was just trying to give you a picture, so I'm putting the trends aside for the moment, just to show, so for 2011 how do families evolve I guess, as children grow older. So this is all families with children aged less than 18 years, and the main difference between the previous graph and this one is that I've included single parents in this graph. And really what is important to know is that one big thing that does change to families, as children grow older is the increase in proportion of children who are in single parent families, and that's those top three categories there. And so that - you know, that's a pretty significant change.

You can see in a lot of those years as children grow older in families within the single parent categories, so in families in which single parents are working fulltime. Then we've got a whole bunch where the single parents are working fulltime, in a kind of a fairly consistent slice all the way through children living in jobless, single parent families. Similarly the next colour down, the grey one, is children living in jobless couple families, and that's kind of a similar sort of slice of the population all the way through, a little bit bigger for the - for the babies.

Then you do see, I guess reflecting what we saw in the previous graph. You've got - the blue is the one parent working fulltime and another not working and that you can see that as children grow older, that declines, and that declines largely coming about through an increase in both parents working fulltime. And then you've still got the fairly big chunk of families all through these ages of children where one parent's fulltime and the other is part-time.

I thought I'd see if I could have a go at trying to show how this has changed, but it's pretty difficult to do because the data is so complicated. If you look really quickly - this is the 1991 data here, so I actually don't know - here we go. So the main - if you kind of look at - compare the two, the main difference really is 1991 has a lower - lower proportion of families, single parent families, and then there are also differences here around this sort of - the divide, whether or not they're bread winner families or part-time. You know, if I just flick back to 2001, you know, you might be able to see it. It's pretty - it's kind of a little subtle, but it's - there is - you can kind of see it.

The two questions I get really often are from journalists - well quite often from journalists, when there's been researched published overseas, are around how many single - how many stay at home dads do we have? Is it increasing? How many breadwinner mums do we have and is it increasing? So here I've just used the census data to have a go at estimating this. Now my - my estimates here are very much, or are entirely based on this information I've presented so far about working hours.

Other people, including some of this - one of these ones at least that I've got here on the screen, is based on comparisons of earnings of mothers and fathers, and I haven't done that. Those estimates are often focussed on dual earning households, comparing the earnings of both parents and come up with considerably higher estimates of - for example, than the female breadwinner families that I'm presenting, but that is - their estimates are focussing on those dual earning families, which is - you know, it's not a major group across the population, especially dual, fulltime families.

So stay at home dads, I guess the biggest definition you can think of stay at home dads might be the dads who are not employed. And for 2011, by age of youngest child, this shows you the percentage of dads who are not employed. That's the height of the bar. So in total that's 12.5 per cent of dads with children less than 18 years. But really when we're thinking about stay at home dads, we usually think about that scenario where dad's at home and mum's out at work. So it's a role reversal that's really being - you know, there's been a decision made that this was the way that they would do things.

This is - that's the green bar really. They're the dads who have employed partners, whether those partners are fulltime or part-time employed. So across all the dads, that's 4.3 per cent of the dads, so it's a pretty small percentage. You could also say the single dads are stay at home dads too if they're not employed in a different way. They - it's - they wouldn't normally be counted as stay at home dads in that sort of more traditional definition, but even so, that's a pretty small percentage in the numbers 1.4 per cent of dads. The percentage then at 4.3 per cent is kind of similar to some percentages - a percentage that the ABS produced - published earlier this year, using a different survey, where they found three per cent of children were living in households with a stay at home dad, using this definition of having a dad at home with the mother in employment. So it's pretty similar.

I did look at the trends and there's kind of not really much in it in these census data. They just kind have just jumped - jumped around a bit. So nothing to speak of. Breadwinner mothers are then really kind of the flip side of this story, because they're the ones who are at work while the dad's at home, if we're using this same definition of working hours. And I have got some trend data here just to show you how that - how that changes across these years and by ages of youngest child. But we're talking again about, you know, really small percentages of families. So in 2011 4.5 per cent of couple families with children aged under 18 years, the mother was fulltime employed and the father wasn't fulltime employed.

I'm going to just shift a little bit now just to talk a bit about the not employed parents, just to give you a little bit of an insight as to who they are. A simple way of doing it is to look at labour force status. Labour force status divides the not employed people up into the unemployed and the not in the labour force, where unemployed are those who are actively seeking work and are available to start work, and we - we generally know that mothers who are out of the labour market most often tend not to be unemployed. They're at home caring for children and they actually would not prefer to be working, and that's represented in these census data as well where you can see quite small percentages of mothers are unemployed, somewhat higher percentages are unemployed amongst the single mothers.

These are from the longitudinal study of Australian children where the parents who are not employed are asked why they're not employed, and you can see from mothers on the left by age of youngest child, that the vast majority of mothers tell us it's because they prefer to be caring for children or looking after their family. So that's nine out of ten are mothers of nought to two year olds say that, and then the percentages decline somewhat as the children get older. As the children get older, mothers are more likely to report certain types of barriers to their being employed.

In particular you can see that other category, the 28 per cent, and when we look at what those other reasons are, they're things like having a health issue, a disability or caring responsibilities. For not employed dads, the situation looks really different. You do get 25 - 23 per cent or so of the dads saying it's around - it's to do with family related reasons, but then you're getting a lot of the dads telling us more about - that's it's more about their barriers to being employed. I'm going to skip that one.

So this is some work that I did - well that came out last week, using the HILDA data. It was focussed on mothers who are not employed and one of the bits of analysis in that report looked at mothers who were not employed at one point in time and then which of those mothers were employed a year later and which ones were not. And it's just to summarise, I guess just to say, you know, what were the characteristics of those mothers who had entered employment a year later. They were the mothers who had a stronger history of employment participation over the longer term and recent past. They had higher levels of educational attainment. They had fewer caring responsibilities, better health, better mental heath, better perceived access to social support. They also had less traditional attitudes to maternal employment.

I think the attitudes about maternal employment are really interesting. It's very - it's kind of problematic in a way to sort of talk about causal effects of attitudes on employment decisions, because we don't know to what extent mothers own attitudes about work and family might even be shaped about their - their future intentions for returning to work. However I want to sort of spend a little bit time just presenting some data on gender role attitudes. So not just mothers themselves, but I think what - what gender role attitudes around work and care look like within our own families, within our own communities and our work places, is all really important because it does actually, you know, it's likely to make a difference to the decisions that we make if the people around us have particular attitudes around work and family.

So I've only got a few slides here that are very - just quite simple. Just comparing some responses to these items from the Household Income Labour - or HILDA, the HILDA survey for men and women, and looking at differences by age. So the first one is where respondents to the survey were asked to rate on a scale as to whether they strongly disagreed was one, strongly agree was seven, you know, with a range of statements. So the first one here, "It is better for everyone involved if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and the children". So you can see, you know, a fairly significant percentage, 40 - 40 or so per cent across males disagreed with this statement. Higher percentages of women disagreed with the statement.

A whole bunch of people were kind of in the middle, but I think it's interesting to see to what extent there are still around 10 per cent of the younger people, both men and women, higher percentages of the older people, but you know, saying that they actually - they agree with this statement. So you know, we think we're really well progressed in society in terms of gender role attitudes and we are to some extent, but there are some people out there that have quite traditional attitudes and you know, I think perhaps we - we hear about why - well in research that looks at men's uptake of family friendly work arrangements for example, sort of looks at the fact that men who don't - well the likelihood of taking up different policies, it matters to what extent your supervisor in your workplace is supportive of you taking up those arrangements. And you can imagine that there are going to be some people in some work places who are not supportive of men actually taking on more of the caring role, thinking that it is much more women's business.

Another question. Mothers who don't need the money should not work. I remember reading when I did my thesis on mothers' employment I had a look at this item. The Australian Women's Weekly ran a study in the 1980s about women and work, and they asked this question and there was - there was a lot of agreement, and it was interesting because people could write in responses as well, and it was a recession at the time as well and so there was a lot of heated debate around - around this about women taking men's jobs. Here you can see today, you know, most people are either disagreeing or kind of in the middle on this. But again, you're seeing that slice of the population who - who agree that mothers who don't need the money should not work.

Taking - I guess looking at the flipside, children are OK, or children do just as well if the mother earns the money and the father cares for the home and the children. So most people agree. So most people I guess are kind of realistic that really you know, that children are going to - children are going to - to manage and then has the percentage disagreeing with item is much smaller than it was on the other item. So as been mentioned a lot of - I have done a fair bit of work around parent leave, return to work. So I've just got a couple of slides on that, just sort of moving on, out of the gender role attitudes work.

I haven't done a huge amount of work in this space in the last little while because of the - because the paid parental leave evaluation team has been so focussed on that and I've sort of just been keen to wait to see the outcomes that arise from their evaluation. So I've just got a little bit data here, and this is just the census data, which I said I'd come back to - to talk about the mothers who are away from work. So this is just for mothers of under one year olds, and again just looking at - looking at couples and singles for each of these census years. And again you can see what we saw before about fulltime and part-time work.

You can actually see that the percentage of mums in part-time work has declined from 91 - sorry, in full time work has declined from 91 to 2001. The percentage in part-time work has sort of jumped around a bit for couples and just slightly increased for singles, but the really big story here is the percentage of mums who are employed but who are on leave, and I guess this is one of those other statistics that I often hear bandied around that I don't agree with given this sort of evidence. People claim that mothers of new babies are increasingly employed, meaning they're back at work much more than they used to be in that first 12 months.

These data suggest that's not true in the last 20 years, but the good news story is that those mothers do have a connection to the labour market in some ways. That they're telling us they have a job, they're just - they're not working at the time of the census. So the - we don't whether that means they've got - they're on paid leave or unpaid leave from the census, but it has been the thing that it's increased significantly over these 20 years for mothers with babies.

These data here are from the pregnancy and employment transition survey that was run by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and this is just some information about what mothers - employed mothers did when their baby was born. Firstly looking on the left is actually in terms of the numbers of women. And even if we took - just look at the right most - the total column there. It just tells you what mothers - employed mothers did when they had their baby, and what - and you can see that 79,000 mothers permanently left their job before they had - before the birth of their child. Then 91,000 mothers said that they were not entitled to paid maternity leave. A small number, 19,000 were entitled to but didn't take maternity leave - paid maternity leave sorry. And then we've got the remainder, 132,000 took paid maternity leave.

Then quite some differences there for public and private sector workplaces, which is more apparent if you look at it in terms of percentages in those bars on the right, with the public sector employees much more likely to have taken paid maternity leave, and the public - the private sector employees more likely to have left work and been more likely to have been not entitled to paid maternity leave.

Now these data - I haven't used these data at all to actually look at the - at paid parental leave and to what extent people have taken that up. But these data do allow you to separate out the sample into those children [sic] who had babies before paid parental leave was introduced and after paid parental leave was introduced. And I've just done these figures yesterday, so you know, I haven't actually had time to you know, fully explore what's going on here, but I'm kind of excited about the opportunities for having a look and seeing what's changed, and it's the same data that we saw in the previous graph.

So on the left, if we just talk about the mothers who were employed in pregnancy and compare those who had a child before paid parental leave was introduced and the ones after, you can see pretty much there's no difference in terms of what mothers did - the employed mothers did on the birth of their child. If I expand it out and look at the graph on the right and include all mothers, including those who were not employed in pregnancy in the percentages, there is something there, and I mean I think one of the things that paid parental leave aimed to do was that to keep mothers attached to the labour market, because if they remain attached to the labour market, then they will be able to access paid parental leave. So that was sort of one - you know, one of the - one of the things we were looking for to see whether mothers do return to work between babies for example, so that they can access paid parental leave for subsequent babies.

Now I don't know if that's what's going on here, but you do see that children born after paid parental leave were - those mothers were less likely to be not employed. They were more likely to be employed prior to the birth of the child than the other mothers. But the differences are pretty small and I think this is where, you know, it would be really interesting to pursue this further and have a - have a little look to see if there are other factors explaining these differences. And again, I've gone to the extent of calling these preliminary findings, this graph here, but this is the sort of analyses that I think is really important and really interesting to look at with paid parental leave, and I've - this is the sort of work I've done some time ago looking at mothers' return to work. And it's basically showing you the percentage of mothers who have returned to work by the age of the child in months.

You can see all red bars there are for the children - the mothers of children who were born prior to January 2011, prior to PPL, and then the yellow are the ones afterwards. So up the top I guess are two interesting graphs - are two interesting lines. They're the owner/managers or self-employed mums. So the self-employed are mums in the - who were born - whose children were born prior to January 2011, had a higher rate of return to work. They were back to work sooner than the mothers whose babies were born after January 2011. Now that could mean that these mothers have actually made use of paid parental leave and stayed out of work, which I guess was one of the good things about paid parental leave because self-employed mothers most often didn't have access to paid parental leave and sort of had no way of kind of funding that time out of employment. So this - that could be - that could be what's going on, and in which case, you know, that's a - I think a very interesting outcome.

The other findings are pretty - kind of - the differences are pretty small, and I'm reluctant to sort of spend time talking about those differences, in part because they are preliminary because they are - I'm saying preliminary because they are unweighted. They actually were kind of a bit of a nuisance to extract and I didn't have time to go back and rerun my analysis for today. And just to very, very quickly mention fathers. This is from some work that I did with the OECD and the reference is at the bottom of the slide there, where we looked at fathers' leave taking across a number of countries. So for Australia, and this is around 2004, 76 per cent of the dads had taken some leave at the time of the birth, and you can see the percentages there and how much - how much time leave was - how much leave was taken, with 12 per cent taking less than one week, about 28 per cent taking one week, 60 per cent taking two weeks or more. If fact, you know, the majority of that 60 per cent it was more around two weeks not sort of for longer periods. So I'd like to give more time to the dads and leave taking, but I'm aware I have to move on.

The last batch of slides here is a kind of whole mix of things around how do families combine work and care, looking at two sets of things. Looking at childcare and looking at working arrangements, and I've kind of - it's all a little bit mixed up in the order of the presentation here, as you'll see. So first just looking at working arrangements. This is from the ABS childhood education and care survey. Employed parents of children aged under 12 years are asked what care arrangements they've used to care for their children, and this compares mothers or - yes, well mothers and fathers.

So the big thing here is it's a very gendered story. You can see that 58 per cent of the fathers said that they had not used any work arrangements to care for their children, compared to 25 per cent of the mums saying that. Then part-time work is the - where things are really different for mums and the dads, with 42 per cent of the mums saying that they've used part-time work, compared to just 4 per cent of the dads. Flexible work hours is what dads use if they're going to use anything to help care for the children and that's 29 per cent of the dads, compared to 42 per cent of the mums. Then we've got this - also 12 per cent of the dads and 18 per cent of the mums saying that they work from home, and then smaller percentages reporting other sorts of arrangements.

I'm going to come back to talking about working arrangements a little bit after presenting some of the childcare data. So these next few slides are from the AIFS research report that will be coming out in a couple of weeks. I'm going to focus on - really on what's on the left really. What children are doing in terms of childcare when their mothers are employed, and these data show you by age of the child and also across years. Where to start. So for school - sorry - there it is - so for school age children here, there's - there's been a lot of increase in childcare use from 1984. You will see it in the next graph sort of why things have jumped around a lot between - particularly to 2011, which kind of is down the lower end there. I'll discuss that more in the next slide.

For the youngest children there's been really big increases, for the one to say four year olds. I'm not going to talk about kind of what's going on here. This is around where children are starting school and the data get really messy to work out, so I sort of focus more on the school age - the obviously school age children than the younger ones. So there's been really big increases here in - in childcare use among children who are aged around one to four. I think this is - this is really interesting here, this, right at the end. For nought year olds or under one year old children, when mothers are employed, there's actually been no change - no change in the percentage of kids who were in childcare over this time.

This is just breaking that down now into whether children were in formal care or informal care. And again, I won't look at the - the graphs on the right-hand side. So formal care includes long day care, for older children school aged care, family day care. For the purposes of these analyses I've also included preschool in - as a form of formal care. Informal care is predominantly grandparents, but it might include other non-relatives, siblings and so on, and I'll show you some of those data in a little bit. So what you can see here is very, very big increases for children with employed mothers in the percentage who are in formal care over this time with these young children were really significant increases, and there has actually been some increase in the percentage who are in formal care among these - these youngest children here.

Informal care doesn't have the - no, let me come back to formal care and just talk about this age pattern here. You do see children increasingly in formal care as they grow up, and to some extent this will be related to parents sort of increasingly believing that formal care options are good for children, helps socialise them and so on, but around these ages - I keep losing my arrow - around these ages also you have got preschool which is the formal early childhood education in the year before school, where the vast majority of children do attend and are encouraged to attend as a matter of giving them the skills to prepare them in terms of school readiness, and the majority of children today do attend some form of early childhood education. And I have done some work with Kelly Hand on that if anybody's interested in looking that up at another time. So that's why we see very strong age related patterns here.

We don't see strong age related patterns at all around informal care. It's just completely flat other than a, you know, a slight decline. So as children grow older they're less likely to be in informal care. We did see this quite big drop in children, the percentage in informal care in 2011 compared to earlier years, and I guess we've got to wait till the next one of these surveys to see whether that's actually part of some new trend. The ABS did actually make a change to their questionnaire order that year that may have made a difference to the estimates. So we've sort of got to be quite cautious in interpreting this as a decline in formal care amongst these children.

Just to give you a little bit of detail then about who these different carers are and how that's changed. So we have - so formal childcare as we saw, a very big increase from the nought to two years olds. The children in formal childcare for nought to two year old with employed mothers that went up from 20 per cent up to 54 per cent. So really, really significant and that's really come about through this very large increase in the percentage of children in long day care from 12 per cent up to 47 per cent across that 1984 to 2011. You have smaller percentages there in family day care across this time. For informal care, the adult grandparent care is a large part of that informal care, and as you can see it didn't - it wasn't separately identified who that adult relative was in earlier years, but now we can see, you know, a lot of that is grandparent provided care.

One of the changes that occurred over this 1984 to 2011 period is informal care has shifted away from these non-relative informal carers. It may be that some people use these non-relatives in the 1980s when formal care options were less available and perhaps that's where, you know, people have moved away from non-relative informal care into the more formal care options.

Looking at three to five year olds is always a bit - a little bit more complicated because we do have pre-school to consider here, so if we're looking at children's attendance in formal care, over all an increase from 50 per cent to 71 per cent. If you look at the percentages who were in preschool - and I should say, so children can be - these percentages here, children can be in multiple forms of care, so there's a kind of double counting of kids in all of these different categories possible. So children that were in preschool, actually the percentage hasn't changed really across this time from 34 per cent and it's 2011, but again like with the younger kids, these children with employed mothers, we're seeing very big increases from 11 per cent up to 36 per cent of children being in long day care. And again small percentages in family day care and other forms of formal care.

So just remember too that these are - these analyses are focussed on children with employed mothers, because that was the focus of my analyses. And if we were to do other analyses and which Kelly and I have done looking at preschool and childcare use, including families with not employed mothers, there are different stories going on there. When children have non-employed mothers, they are more likely to be using preschool. Preschool can be difficult for families - for parents to manage working hours around, given the sessional nature of preschool. So again for these three to five years olds, we're seeing grandparents, an important part of the story, and again we're seeing the big drop off from - in the informal care provided by non-relatives.

Six to 11 year old have all similarly seen very big increases in the different - in the use of formal care. It was only 3 per cent in 1984. You know, they didn't even have outside school hours care identified separately as a category in the 1984 survey. So 18 per cent of these children are in outside school hours care now in 2011. So you can see the percentage in informal care is actually higher than the percentage in informal care at this age. So there are a lot of kids and I haven't actually - I haven't mentioned it yet because I'm going to be talking about it in a moment. In all of these ages, and let me just flip through to show - in all of these age groups, there are a significant proportion of kids who are not in any formal care - not in any informal care. They're in only parental care. Parental care only.

So we had 20 per cent at the nought to two year olds with employed mothers have no care at all. A similar percentage for the three to five year olds. Much higher percentages for the six to 11 year old of course because a lot of these - well these children are in school, and a lot of mothers will try to work their hours such that they can - they can minimise the use of non-parental childcare. Sorry, I'm getting distracted by my time warnings here. I'm relieved, I think I'm on track.

So I have done a fair bit of, I guess, investigation of these families who are managing without non-parental care and this is some - something that Matthew Bray, who's now at the ANU - Matthew and I gave been sort of trying to - trying to write up and get published between all our other activities. And I think, you know, this is the percentage that, you know, we're particularly interested in here. I guess, well for all these young children, but especially these mothers with babies who are employed, you know, it was about a third of those families have no childcare at all, no grandparent care, just - just the parents providing care.

Whenever I used to report that figure, or even still when I report that figure, people straight away come back to me and say, well oh that's because the mums and dads are sharing the care, you know, it's this split shift parenting where they're sort of you know, just taking turns. And I haven't presented the data so much today and I'll talk about some of the working arrangements parents use to facilitate this but work that Matthew and I have done is sort of using the data from the LSAC study to show really it's not so much about this split shift parenting, it really is about mothers working very flexible hours so that they can work their - manage their work around their caring responsibilities. Fathers are in the mix a little as well but very much it is a story about mothers and how they're managing their care and work.

I'm going to skip these couple. This is the data that I showed you earlier, it's different colours and everything so it looks a little different, from the ABS childhood education and care survey looking a those working arrangements parents reported to be using to care for children. And this is where we were sort of curious to see well who are these families that managed with no childcare, with parent care only, you know, was it something about the working arrangements that they sued.

So looking at these first few slides, few bars on the left for mothers. First the one that stands out to me every time I see it is when mothers work part time hours; they are actually less likely to be the parent only care group. So if mothers work permanent part time hours they're more likely to be using childcare which says to me that it's the nature of that permanent part time work that means mothers or families need to have permanent ongoing childcare arrangements in place, they can't sort of just manage their childcare on a sort of more casual basis.

But it's working from home here that really does stand out. So when families manage with only parental care, those families are more likely - the mothers are more likely to be working at home so that's - I’ve forgotten the exact number, 37 per cent of those who only used parent care were working from home compared to about 20 per cent who'd used some childcare. You can see hardly anything is going on there in comparing those who did and didn't use childcare for the dads, so you know it is a story about mums more so.

These were some data that we extracted from the 2005 parental leave in Australia survey, which was a nested study within the way of 1.5 of LSAC. Parents - a study was, you know included a really rich set of information about parents' leave taking and their return to work including information on how they returned to work. And this is where, you know, mothers were asked what work arrangements they had used to care for their child on return to work and we were doing a comparison there of those who'd used childcare and who'd used parent only care, again to see what were the working arrangements that stood out for those that used parent only care.

And this is what these different - the statistical tests there were comparing which - identifying which ones were statistically significant. We found the same finding that we saw in the earlier graph around permanent part time work but that was actually - permanent part time work was more likely among those that had used non-parental childcare. And again the same finding about working from home, so among those that used parent only care those parents were more likely to say that they'd been working from home.

And then we had - well the other thing to highlight is just I guess this "Other", and I want to just - so the ones that had used parents only care were more likely to say "Other" and I want to highlight that because they actually then went on to tell us what those arrangements were. It's things like, "I work from home, self employed, I choose my own hours, very casual, very flexible hours, I was able to take my child to work all the time, did work much shorter hours, flexibility of being self employed contractor was the key".

Matt and I had analysed the working arrangements of mothers of new babies from the LSAC study some time ago and looked at the jobs these mothers are doing and they're - you know, a lot of these mothers are not going out to the office, they're not going out to a factory, actually a lot of them - the top occupation for these mothers was bookkeeping. So you know, you can imagine the flexibility of that job. We also - I've forgotten all of them but we had for example hairdressers who were sort of - and sort of self employed hairdressers. So you can just see that some of these mothers were finding quite creative ways of managing to stay connected to employment in n a way that allowed them to continue to care for children.

Other work arrangements also include references to the fathers providing care, so the partner had the child during the day while I worked, dads working in the office - sorry days working in the office, my husband would stay home with my daughter, so a little bit of this split shift parenting. Worked nightshift or weekends when husband was home with the baby. Mothers were also asked what fathers - what work arrangements fathers had used on their return to work and so here you can see that we can see especially a little bit of working at home. So the dads sometimes saying that they worked from home - sorry this is as reported by the mothers what did the dads do.

So saying that the dads sometimes, they were more likely to be working from home in those parent only care families. A little bit there on the bring child to work occasionally as well. So these were some of the - an expansion of some of this information. "Because he is self employed he can work his job around our needs, self employed so he can swap days off sometimes and be flexible. We work a rotating roster so one of us is always home. Although he works long hours he also does a lot of work from home and is extremely helpful", very nice positive one to go out on.

And speaking of positive notes to go out on, this is just I guess just what I wanted to just finish with really data wise. The HiILDA study has a range of satisfaction questions in it, one of them is for employed people what is your satisfaction with the flexibility to balance work and non work commitments and I've just grouped them, the scale is from nought through to ten and I've just grouped the most dissatisfied and most satisfied and then everybody else in the middle.

You can see being most satisfied, in the most satisfied category was actually the most common place to be so generally a lot of people out there are really happy about how their work and life balance is going which is a really nice positive story. You're seeing that small element there who are most dissatisfied and of course some of the oranges are kind of could - so they're somewhat dissatisfied as well. So we need to keep on to this and work out where those difficulties are, who are the families or the men and women having most difficulties, whether that's certain types of jobs or certain other types of characteristics those people have. But it's kind of nice to see that generally a lot of people out there are pretty satisfied.

So where to from here. I mean it's just stressed I guess a bit of a sort of what are we thinking of doing further in this area and we'd be happy to - I'd be happy to talk about it and there's probably others in the audience who'd be happy to talk about this some more about what we're doing or hope to be doing in this area, doing more about families' childcare arrangements and decisions around work and family, more about continuing work I guess on mothers' employment characteristics and transitions, continuing to do more work about fathers' employment and fathering, and this was where the LSAC study, you know LSAC is just extraordinarily valuable in being able to give us some insights on that. And similarly on mothers and fathers' sharing of childcare especially as it relates to workplace arrangements.

So that's really it and I'll just finish with my acknowledgement slide that I need to put up, so thank you very much.

Thank you.

[Applause]

END OF TRANSCRIPT


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