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82 Working Paper

Building the Dual Earner/Dual Carer Society: Policy Developments in Europe.

May 29, 2024 – Janet C. Gornick and Marcia K. Meyers


A new model of work and family life is emerging out of contemporary debates on social citizenship and the characteristics of the“woman-friendly” welfare state. The dual-earner/dual-carer model refers to a social and economic arrangement in which men and women engage symmetrically in both paid work in the labor market and in unpaid work in the home. Parents’ ability to balance family and market responsibilities, and to allocate employment and childcare-giving equally between mothers and fathers, could be facilitated by a package of state policies. Three areas of supportive policy – all invarious states of development across Europe – include: (1) family leave schemes that provide job protections and wage replacement for parents of young children; (2) affordable, high quality early childhood education and care, to a limited extent for very young children and to a much larger extent for children aged three to school-age; and (3) labor market regulations aimed at shortening the standard work week and strengthening remuneration for reduced-hour employment. In this paper, we review European policy provisions, and then turn our attention to the United States case. We suggest that embracing the vision of the dual-earner/dual-carer society may help to draw diverse but unified support for family policy development in the United States.