chapter  6
21 Pages

Are benefits a disincentive to work part-time? MARCO DOUDEIJNS

WithMarco Doudeijns

Although a combination of factors is responsible for the striking growth in parttime employment in recent years, one potentially important factor-changes in the tax and benefit system-has been barely studied to date. A new international database compiled by the OECD on a wide range of benefits and their interactions with the tax system enables us to study this issue in more depth. To date, most part-time jobs have been taken by married or cohabiting women. Thus, the traditional male breadwinner/female carer stereotype that was assumed to be the dominant division of work and family responsibilities is increasingly giving way to dual-earner/dual-carer households (OECD 1994c; Fagan and Rubery 1996).2 In the latter households part-time work is often sought as a means of combining paid work with care responsibilities. But some people work parttime involuntarily, because they cannot find a full-time job. Employers, on the other hand, can be keen to use part-time work to add flexibility to their workforce, for example, to extend opening hours or to meet peak-hour labour demand (Delsen 1995). There are also financial incentives for employers to use part-time labour to reduce wage costs, such as lower social security contributions or minimum wage exemptions (see Rubery, Chapter 7, this volume). Therefore, two or three part-timers may be cheaper than one full-time employee doing the same amount of work.3