Their YES! topic
Career planning and birth gap: How can studies, career and family be brought into a better balance?
by Daniel Kamhöfer (Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE)) and Matthias Westphal (RWI – Leibniz Institute for Economic Research)
Falling birth rates? Overloading the pension system? Educational expansion? Overcrowded lecture halls?
We are all familiar with these problems and know how urgently solutions are needed. But one thing must not be overlooked in the approaches to finding solutions: It is not enough to look at these problems individually. Promising solutions must address the issues holistically!
While education policy strives to get more and more young people to study, family policy tries to counteract the demographic change. At first glance, one might not expect a direct connection between these two policy fields. On closer examination, however, a mutual dependence seems entirely plausible. Policies that focus on improving educational opportunities to ensure that Germany remains internationally competitive in the future must be accompanied by measures that unite academic and working life with family life. If more and more young people study and have to find their way in a job in their mid-20s, the result is that if they want to have children, they have them later, and some may decide against having children altogether. In fact, scientific studies confirm this undesirable side effect of increased educational participation: On average, women with university degrees marry later, become mothers later and may decide against having children altogether in favour of their professional careers. Thus, the challenge of a sustainable policy is to combine both a fulfilled family life and a professional career.
How can the conflict of goals between family and career be defused and both be combined? Can the planned right of return from part-time work to full-time work in the first years after the birth of a child provide a remedy? What potential do more flexible working hours and working from home have? How can these possibilities be specifically promoted? Does parental allowance represent a further lever? At the moment, parental allowance is linked to income, but female academics often earn so much that they exceed the maximum limit and thus receive less parental allowance than non-academics. Is an adjustment desirable in terms of social policy? This challenge aims to discuss these and other possibilities that make it possible to reconcile family and work.