Globalization, Women’s Work, and Care Needs: The Urgency of Reconciliation Policies

BY Lourdes Beneria

This Address argues that the increase in women’s participation in paid work in many countries has made more manifest the tensions around balancing family and labor market work, hence making more obvious the need to solve the problems of care facing many families. First, the Address focuses on the significance of demographic changes affecting these tensions, namely rising women’s labor force participation rates, declining fertility rates, smaller family size, and increasing life expectancy. These changes provide the background for an understanding of the “crisis of care,” or the tensions created by the difficulties that families encounter in caring for children, the sick, and aging family members, particularly in high-income countries, such as in western Europe, the United States, and Japan. Second, the Address emphasizes the importance of policies dealing with this crisis, and it argues that, in the high-income countries where public policies have been lagging, female immigration has played an important role in finding some private solutions to the crisis. Third, the Address argues that care-provisioning policies in different countries have resulted in a variety of models, depending on the degree of public intervention and market-oriented strategies. Finally, the Address examines the notion that the current global economic crisis is not gender neutral and is likely to reinforce the tendencies intensifying the crisis of care. This reinforces the conclusion that the need to take up policies to balance family and labor market work seriously is an issue whose time has come.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 88 N.C. L. Rev. 1501 (2010)