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Dual-Earner Families - Eastern Europe And Russia

unemployment family women family burden paid

When Eastern Europe and Russia were socialist, paid employment was both a right and an obligation of all adults; dual-earner families were the normative type of family. Since the transition to a market economy in these areas, governmental ideology has often used women's home obligations to justify their removal from jobs, and the unemployment rates of women have markedly increased (Arber and Gilbert 1992; Lewis et al. 1992; Lobodzinska 1995). There is no evidence that women want to define themselves as homemakers; they are unemployed and searching for ways to earn income. The dual-earner family continues to be the modal family type in most post-Soviet societies. The majority of Russian and East European women regard themselves as either the primary or co-breadwinner of their family (Lobodzinska 1995).

As elsewhere, dual burdens have been conceptualized in Eastern Europe as women's burden. Women in dual-earner families have always been expected to work for pay after childbirth and to maintain the home and family, while men are only expected to work for pay (Arber and Gilbert 1992; Lewis et al. 1992). During the socialist era, this dual burden was less weighty than in capitalist societies because of the widespread availability of childcare facilities and governmental subsidies including maternity leave and health care. Although communist countries varied some in the extent to which such policies existed, the normative requirement that women work in paid labor helped to justify a wide-ranging set of services. This has been discontinued in the post-communist era, and women are finding the double-burden very heavy (Gal and Kligman 2000; Vannoy et al. 1999).

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