To What Extent Do Policies Affecting the Division of Paid and Unpaid Work Lead to Less Separation Among Couples?
In Finland, the dual breadwinner model is quite common and women’s employment rate is slightly higher than men. When couples have a child, they have the option to either stay at home with their child or to use public day care, which all children under the age of the three have a right to access. The former option is known as cash-for-care (CFC) and provides a payment to parents whose young children (aged 9-35 months) are not in public childcare. Even though this benefit can be used by either parent, mothers are the ones that primarily take advantage of it to care for their child full time.
This particular benefit scheme is likely to create a gendered division of labour in the household, which may persist beyond the period of CFC receipt and could affect partnership stability. Have CFC benefits protected against the risk of separation among couples in Finland? Kathrin Morosow (University of Bath), Marika Jalovaara (University of Turku) and Juho Härkönen (European University Institute & Stockholm University) looked to see what impact receiving CFC benefits has on short- and long-term risks of separation.
Using high-quality register data from Statistics Finland, the authors analysed the unions of Finnish-born women who had their first biological child between 1987 and 2009. In the short-term, their findings suggest a lower risk of separation (around 20%) among couples that receive this benefit as compared to couples who do not use it. A possible explanation is that by influencing the division of paid and unpaid labour in partnerships, CFC benefits can cause economic dependency inside families and create a temporary barrier to leaving an unsatisfactory partnership. In a long-term perspective, however, having received the benefit does not play a role in the chances of separation.