chapter  7
Combining work and family: Nordic policy reforms in the 1990s
ByArnlaug Leira
Pages 19

Ever since the mid-1950s when Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein (1956) advocated married women’s right to enter employment, questions concerning the combination of work and family responsibilities have become increasingly important in social research in the Scandinavian countries, and central issues in policy reform. 1 For decades the model family of industrialism centred around the male breadwinner and the female homemaker/carer has been declining, and replaced by the dual-earner family as numerically the dominant family form. Women’s labour market participation has increased dramatically, as evidenced in particular in the mass entry of mothers into the labour market. However, these processes are not unique to the Nordic countries; in the 1990s the increase in mothers’ participation rates is registered across the welfare states of the West. The emergence of the dual-earner family shows empirically how the relationship between production and social reproduction is being changed, transforming the everyday time structures as well as the gender balance of employment.