Working Lives Survey was commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission
for Northern Ireland in 1990. The survey was designed to: (1)
identify factors which determine whether or not women participate
in paid work and how the unpaid work undertaken by women in the home
influences their involvement in the labour market; (2) to record the
type of paid work women have done and do, as well as their attitudes
and experiences of employment
women were interviewed who lived in private households and were aged
between 18 and 65. The sample was drawn from the 1990 Register of
Electors using a 2 stage proportionate random sample. The interview
took a semi-structured approach, including some prompt items.
is not evenly shared among partners: regardless of their employment
status, 56% of married/cohabiting mothers with children under 16 undertook
all or most of the childcare.
involvement of partners in childcare activities for children under
16 was patchy. While 72% of partners often played with children, only
13% often took children to the doctor. These figures are not affected
by social class.
working mothers (73%) could take time off work easily for childcare
reasons, but only 54% of women working full-time and 28% of women
working part-time were paid for this time. Those that were paid were
more likely to be in professional, intermediate or skilled non-manual
half of married and cohabiting mothers worked, and 44% of these were
worked full-time. There were some variations by age of the youngest
child, in that women with younger children were slightly less likely
to work, but that those did were more likely to work full-time. Mothers
with more than one child were less likely to work part-time, than
those with one child.
arrangements were ad hoc, informal and complicated for many working
mothers. Over two thirds of children aged under three were looked
after by a relative, and a further 30% were looked after by childminders.
Two fifths of women used a variety of types of care. For children
aged three and four, the importance of family care decreases and more
children are looked after by childminders or a combination of types
of care. This may explain why many women leave full-time work after
their first child. 59% of children over five were looked after within
of employed mothers did not pay any child care costs, perhaps reflecting
the significance of the family in childcare arrangements. The high
cost of group care or cr²che may be a disincentive for mothers to
remain in the workforce or to use this type of childcare.
half of working mothers chose family care as their preferred childcare
option. Group care was important for mothers of children aged three
or four, but was less preferable for other age groups. This may reflect
the lack of availability of nursery places and/or their cost. Childminders
were also important, perhaps reflecting the high number of registered
childminders in Northern Ireland.