English title: Determinants of Work-life Balance: Shortcomings in the Contemporary Measurement of WLB in Large-scale Surveys

Author(s): F. Pichler -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2009


Research on work-life balance (WLB) has presented important insights into the problems of combining family aspirations with paid work in relation to policy relevant agendas. Using the ESS II (2004/2005), we examine work-related and household/family-related causes of WLB. We can corroborate other research findings that show that work-related aspects explain by far the largest part of the variation in WLB. However, we illustrate that the measurement of WLB is partly problematic. Because WLB scales conceptualize the work component more specifically than the life component, what ‘life’ means remains rather intangible apart from general references to the ‘home’, ‘housework’ and ‘family responsibilities’. This largely neglects different emic dimensions to WLB common to specific subgroups and renders the measurement rather abstract. Second, the wordings of WLB indicators already include their most probable explanations. There is the danger of a circular argument here and many explanations seem tautological. This makes it difficult to conclude on the effects of other than work-related aspects on WLB, which are, arguably, also important aspects of WLB. Finally, WLB scales hardly correlate with relevant external criteria, for instance subjective well-being. Following from these findings, we discuss what these WLB scales could really measure and propose to broaden quantitative empirical approaches to it.

Volume: 92

Issue: 3

From page no: 449

To page no: 469

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1007/S11205-008-9297-5

Journal: Social Indicators Research

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