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The Politics of Mothers' Employment: France in Comparative Perspective

  • Kimberly J. Morgan (a1)

Abstract

Contemporary theories and typologies of welfare states in Western Europe assume that social democratic parties are the engine behind progressive policies on gender roles and on the participation of women in the labor force. The French case challenges these assumptions—this conservative welfare state, surprisingly, provides an extensive system of public day care along with other forms of support that facilitate mothers' employment. This article explains the existence of the French system through a comparative historical analysis of child care policy in France and other European welfare states. The mainfindingsconcern the role of organized religion in shaping contemporary public day care policies. In contrast to most conservative welfare regimes, the French welfare state has been shaped not by clericalism and Christian democracy but by secularism and republican nationalism—forces that influenced some of the earliest public policies for the education of young children in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and that later affected the founding of the contemporary day care system in the 1970s. In that latter period of propitious economic circumstances, pragmatic policy elites eschewed moralizing critiques of mothers' employment and established a system of financing that has enabled the long-term expansion of public day care. These findings have implications for our understanding of gender politics and welfare regimes in Western Europe. The secularization of political life—not social democratic power—best explains why public policies in France and in many Scandinavian countries have promoted the demise of the traditional family model.

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3 “Liberté, but not Égalité,” The Economist 350, February 27, 1999, 48. The statistics on women's political representation proved so damning that a recent law requires that parties put forth equal numbers of female and male candidates in elections.

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10 In the 2001 Paris municipal elections, for example, both the Socialist and Gaullist candidates for mayor declared their strong support for public day care and asserted that their own program would do more to increase access to day care.

11 Levy, Jonah, “Vice into Virtue? Progressive Politics and Welfare Reform in Continental Europe,” Politics and Society 27 (June 1999), 245; and Kersbergen, Kees van, Social Capitalism: A Study of Christian Democracy and the Welfare State (London: Routledge, 1995).

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14 Esping-Andersen (fn. 12), 50, 70.

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17 The tax deduction is worth 25 percent of spending on day care, up to a ceiling of €2300 per child. All parents with out-of-home child care costs are eligible, as long as they use registered family day care or other officially recognized forms of care. The benefit amount currently ranges from about €65 a month to €200 a month, depending on family income, the number of children, and their age.

18 This tax break covers 50 percent of the cost of home care, up to a €6900 ceiling.

19 Esping-Andersen, , The SocialFoundations ofPost-IndustrialEconomies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 55; and Korpi, , “Faces of Inequality: Gender, Class, and Patterns of Inequalities in Different Types of Welfare States, Social Politics 7 (Summer 2000).

20 In Italy, programs must be open eight hours a day; in Belgium, they are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (and closed one afternoon per week).

21 Hanratty, Maria J., “Social Welfare Programs for Women and Children: The United States versus France,” in Blank, Rebecca M., ed., Social Protection versus Economic Flexibility: Is There a Trade-Off? (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

22 European Commission, Living Conditions in Europe: Statistical Pocketbook (Brussels: European Commission, 2001).

23 Esping-Andersen (fn. 19).

24 Cedric Afsa, “L'allocation parentale d'education: entre -politique familiale et politique de l'emploi” (Benefits for child-rearing: Between family policy and employment policy), Insee Première 569 (February 1998), 37–40.

25 Marie-Odile Simon, “L'allocation parentale d'education: une parenthese de trois ans .. . ou plus” (Benefits for child-rearing: A break of three years ... or more), Credoc consommation et modes de vie 136 (June 30, 1999).

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22 Weir, Margaret and Skocpol, , “State Structures and the Possibilities for ‘Keynesian’ Responses to the Great Depression in Sweden, Britain, and the United States,” in Evans, Peter B., Rueschemeyer, Dietrich, and Skocpol, , eds., Bringing the State Back In (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985); Huber, Evelyne, Ragin, Charles, and Stephens, John D., “Social Democracy, Christian Democracy, Constitutional Structure, and the Welfare State,” American Journal of Sociology 99 (November 1993), 728.

28 Gidron, Benjamin, Kramer, Ralph M., and Salamon, Lester M., “Government and the Third Sector in Comparative Perspective: Allies or Adversaries?” in Gidron, Kramer, and Salamon, eds., Government and the Third Sector: Emerging Relationships in Welfare States (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992).

29 Korpi (fn. 5); Esping-Andersen (fn. 12); Esping-Andersen, and Kersbergen, van, “Contemporary Research on Social Democracy,” Annual Review of Sociology 18 (1986).

30 Huber, and Stephens, , “Partisan Governance, Women's Employment, and the Social Democratic Service State,” American Sociological Review 65 (June 2000); van Kersbergen (fn. 11).

31 Esping-Andersen (fn. 19).

32 Levy, , “France: Directing Adjustment?” in Scharpf, Fritz W. and Schmidt, Vivien A., eds., Welfare and Work in the Open Economy: Diverse Responses to Common Challenges (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 310–11.

33 On the varying fates of social democracy in Scandinavia, see Esping-Andersen, , Politics Against Markets (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985).

34 Prost, Antoine, Histoire de I'Enseignement en France 1800–1967 (History of education in France) (Paris: Librairie Armand Colin, 1968); Ozouf, Mona, L'Ecole, I'Eglise et la Refublique: 1871–1914 (The school, the church, and the republic) (Paris: Editions Cana/Jean Offredo, 1982).

35 Berger, Suzanne, “Religious Transformation and the Future of Politics,” in Maier, Charles S., ed., Changing Boundaries of the Political (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 114; Zeldin, Theodore R., Conflicts in French Society: Anticlericalism, Education and Morals in the Nineteenth Century (London: Allen and Unwin, 1970).

36 For a detailed account of the origins of early childhood education, see Morgan, Kimberly J., “Forging the Frontiers between State, Church, and Family: Religious Cleavages and the Origins of Early Childhood Care and Education Policies in France, Sweden, and Germany,” Politics and Society 30 (March 2002).

37 Luc, Jean-Noël, L'Invention du Jeune Enfant au XIXe siècle: de la salle d'asile à I'école maternelle (Invention of the young child in the nineteenth century: From the day nursery to the nursery school) (Paris: Editions Belin, 1997).

38 Grew, Raymond and Harrigan, Patrick J., “The Catholic Contribution to Universal Schooling in France, 1850–1906,” Journal of Modem History 57 (June 1985), 219, 224; and Dajez, Frédéric, Les origines de I'école maternelle (Origins of the nursery school) (Paris: PUF, 1994), 142–51.

39 Dajez (fn. 38), 161.

40 This contrasts with the Froebelian kindergartens and similarly inspired preschool programs in other countries, which tended to be privately operated, oriented around the bourgeoisie, and available for a few hours a day.

41 Blackstone, Tessa, “Some Aspects of the Structure and Extent of Nursery Education in Five European Countries,” Comparative Education 7 (December 1971), 92, 96. In addition, the mandatory school age in Sweden was seven, but only 43 percent of Swedish six year olds were in preschool education in the late 1960s.

42 Ullman, Claire F., The Welfare State's Other Crisis: Explaining the New Partnership between Nonprofit Organizations and the State in France (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1998), 4647.

43 Ibid.

44 Wolfgang Seibel, “Government/Third-Sector Relationship in a Comparative Perspective: The Cases of France and West Germany,” Voluntas 1, 1 (1990), 47—48; and Archambault, Edith, “Le secteur associatif en France et dans le monde” (The voluntary sector in France and in the world), in Bloch-Lainé, François, ed., Faire société: les associations au coeur du social (Making society: Associations in the heart of social life) (Paris: Syros, 1999), 29.

45 Kalyvas, Stathis N., The Rise of Christian Democracy in Europe (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1996), 7275.

46 Berger (fn. 35), 112–13; Irving, R. E. M., The Christian Democratic Parties of Western Europe (London: Allen and Unwin, 1979), 19.

47 Craig, Gordon, Germany 1866–1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 7678, 91–97; and Kossmann, E. H., The Low Countries, 1780–1940 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 242, 315.

48 Dansette, Adrien, Religious History of Modern France, vol. 2 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1961).

49 Kalyvas (fn. 45), 138–41.

50 Chapman, Herrick, “French Democracy and the Welfare State,” in Andrews, George Reid and Chapman, eds., The Social Construction of Democracy, 1870–1990 (New York: NYU Press, 1995), 308.

51 Rémi Lenoir, “Family Policy in France since 1938,” in Ambler (fn. 7), 153.

52 Prost, “L'évolution de la politique familiale en France de 1938 à 1981,” Le mouvement social 129 (October-December 1984), 9–10; Laroque, Pierre, La politique familiale en France depuis 1945 (Family policy in France since 1945) (Paris: La Documentation Française, 1985), 199; and Duchen (fn. 8), 108.

53 Prost (fn. 52), 10–11.

54 Talmy, Robert, Histoire du mouvement familial en France 1896—1939 (History of the family movement in France), vol. 1 (Paris: Union Nationale des Caisses d'Allocations Familiales, 1962).

55 Ibid., 152–57.

56 Pedersen, Susan, Family, Dependence, and the Origins ofthe Welfare State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), chap. 5.

57 Virginie Bussat and Michel Chauvière, Les interets familiaux à I'epreuve d'une comparaison France-Angleterre (Family interests as seen through a French-British comparison) (Report for the CNAF, Paris, January 1997).

58 One of the more conservative associations, Families de France, does sometimes separate itself from UNAF when strongly opposed to a particular government policy, so as to speak with its own voice. See Claude Martin and Patrick Hassenteufel, La representation des interetsfamiliaux en Europe: Alle-magne, Belgique, Grande-Bretagne, France, Portugal (Representation of family interests in Europe: Germany, Belgium, Great Britain, France, Portugal) (Report for the European Commission, General Division Five, September 1997), 84.

59 Duchen (fn. 8), 105; Lenoir (fn. 51), 160–62.

60 Commissariat Général du Plan de Modernisation et d'équipement, Troisième plan de developpement économique et social: Rapport général de la Commission de la main d'oeuvre (Third economic and social development plan: General report of the labor force commission) (Paris: 1958), 182–86.

61 “Rapport du Ministre de la Santé Publique et de la Population sur la Protection Maternelle et Infantile au cours de la période comprise entre le ler Janvier 1946 et le 31 Décembre 1951” (Report of the minister of public health and population on maternal and infant health in the period from January 1, 1946 to December 31, 1951), Journal Officiel: Annexe Administratif (July 16, 1956); and Alain Norvez, De la naissance à I'é'cole: Santé, modes de garde et préscolarité dam la France contemporaine (From birth to school: Health care, day care and preschool in contemporary France) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1990), 372–73.

62 Irving, , Christian Democracy in France (London: Allen & Unwin, 1973), 3645.

63 Ibid., 14,65; and Berger (fn. 35), 120–21. For a discussion of how Christian democratic parties in different countries reached out to either the left or the right to widen their political base, see van Kers-bergen (fn. 11).

64 Warner, Carolyn M., Confessions of an Interest Group: The Catholic Church and Political Parties in Europe (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 2000), 8792, 114.

65 The direct election of the president (starting in 1962) and the use of the scrutin d'arrondissement à deux tours produced a bipolarization of the electorate, which, in turn, put pressure on centrist parties such as the MRP.

66 Jacqueline Martin, “Politique familiale et travail des femmes mariées en France: Perspective his-torique, 1942–1982” (Family policy and married women's employment in France: A historical perspective, 1942–82), Population 53 (November-December 1998): 1137–38.

67 Kalyvas (fn. 45), 115.

68 Knapp, Andrew, Gaullism since de Gaulle (Aldershot, England: Dartmouth Publishing Company Limited, 1994), 143.

69 See also Loek Halman, Thorleif Pettersson, and Johan Verweij, “The Religious Factor in Contemporary Society,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 40, no. 1 (1999).

70 Knapp (fn. 68), 398—99; and Remond, Rene, La droite en France: De la premiere restauration a la cinquieme Republique (The right in France: From the first restoration to the Fifth Republic), vol. 2 (Paris: Aubier, 1968).

71 Vaughan, Michalina, “Gaullism,” in Kolinsky, Martin and Paterson, William E., eds., Social and Political Movements in Western Europe (London: Croom Held Ltd., 1976), 109, 113; and Cemy, Philip, “Modernization and the Fifth Republic,” in Gaffney, John, ed., France and Modernization (Aldershot: Avebury, 1988), 21.

72 Chariot, Jean, L'U.N.R. Etude dupouvoir au sein d'un parti politique (The UNR: A study of power within a political party) (Paris: Armand Colin, 1967), 283—86; and Hazareesingh, Sudhir, Political Traditions in Modern France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 274.

73 Knapp (fn. 68), 368; Remond (fn. 70), 296–97; and Bimbaum, Pierre, Les Sommets de VEtat: Essai sur l'élite dupouvoir en France (Heights of power: An essay on the power elite in France) (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1977).

74 Dahrendorf, Ralf, Society andDemocracy in Germany (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1967), 314.

75 Birgit Fix, The Institutionalization ofFamily Welfare: Division of Labour in the Field of Child Care in Austria and Germany (Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung, Arbeitsberech I, No. 24, 1998); Tietze, Wolfgang, Rossbach, Hans-Gunther, and Ufermann, Karin, “Child Care and Early Education in the Federal Republic of Germany,” in Olmsted, Patricia P. and Weikart, David P., eds., How Nations Serve Young Children (Ypsilanti, Mich.: High/Scope Press, 1989), 64.

76 Centre des Archives Contemporaines, No. 870176, Art. IS, “Documents de synthèse Education Nationale sur le Cinquième Plan, Note pour M. Delors de M. Lasry,” Dec. 14, 1964; Jean-Marie Poirier, report for the Commission of Cultural, Family and Social Affairs, Ministry of National Education, Journal Officiel (1965): 3792.

77 Olivier Guichard, speech to the French Parliament, Journal Officiel, November 12, 1969, 3581.

78 Lenoir(fn. 51), 165–66.

79 Ibid., 166.

80 Commissariat Général du Plan, Quatrième plan de developpement economique et social (1962–1965): Rapport general de la Commission de la main d'oeuvre (Fourth economic and social development plan: General report of the labor force commission) (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1961), 19.

81 Commissariat Général du Plan, Sixiemeplan de developpement economique et social (Sixth economic and social development plan) (Paris: Documentation Française, 1971), 24, 216.

82 Author interview with Jacqueline Ancelin, Paris, March 9, 1998; author interview with Evelyne Sullerot, Paris, April 22, 1998; author interview with Jacqueline Farrache, Paris, April 22, 1998; and Duchen (fn. 8), 194.

83 See, for example, Jacqueline de Linares, “Le droit d'avoir des enfants” (The right to have children), L'Express, November 6, 1972, 102; “Enfance telle que je la réve” (Childhood as I dream of it), Réforme, February 24, 1973; and Christiane Sacase, “Des crèches sauvages pour les enfants de Mai” (Unauthorized child care for the children of May), L'Express, December 8, 1969, 99.

84 Liane Mozère, Lepnntemps des créches: Histoire et analyse d'un mouvement (Springtime for the crèches: History and analysis of a movement) (Paris: Editions L'Harmattan, 1992).

85 Sullerot and Michèle Saltiel, Les crèches et les équipements d'accueil pour la petite enfance (Crèches and day care services for young children) (Paris: Hachette, 1974).

86 On Germany, see Kolbe, Wiebke, “Gender and Parenthood in West German Family Politics from the 1960s to the 1980s,” in Torstendahl, Rolf, ed., State Policy and Gender System in the Two German States and Sweden: 1945–1989 (Uppsala, Sweden: Department of History, 1999); on The Netherlands, see Bussemaker, , “Rationales of Care in Contemporary Welfare States: The Case of Childcare in the Netherlands,” Social Politics 5 (Spring 1998), 7677.

87 Chaban-Delmas, Jacques, Mémoirespour demain (Memoirs for tomorrow) (Paris: Flammarion, 1997), 435–37.

88 Centre des Archives Contemporaines, No. 760166, Art. 6, “Fiche de programme finalise” (Sheet of the finalized program). As economic planners argued: “... it would be in vain today, and moreover contrary to the exigencies of economic development as well as to the aspirations of those concerned, to try to confine woman in the role of mother. To the contrary, we must allow her to assume, at the same time, in all cases when she would like it, her role within the family and the professional activity that she has chosen.” Commissariat général du plan, Sixième plan, 76.

89 Ancelin, L'Action sociale familiale et les Caisses d'allocations Familiales (Social services for families and the family benefits funds) (Paris: Documentation Française, 1997), 244–48.

90 See, for example, “Les maires communists réclament une participation des enterprises au financement des creches” (Communist mayors call for employer participation infinancingchild care centers), Le Monde, April 2, 1974; “Crèches: Le gouvernment refuse de faire payer les patrons” (Child care: The government refuses to make employers pay), L'Humanité, October 13, 1972; Françoise Lazard, “Petite enfance et émancipation de la femme” (Early childhood and the emancipation of women), L'Humanité, December 11, 1970; and Eric Eauvives, “La bataille des crèches” (Battle for child care), Rouge, June 9, 1977.

91 “Deux milles crèches: Nous tiendrons le défi” (Two thousand child care centers: We will meet the challenge), Le Monde, February 2, 1974; and Francois Depuis, “Le desarroi des meres” (The distress of mothers), Le Nouvel Observateur, May 13, 1974.

92 Gardette, Xavier, “The Social Policies of Giscard d'Estaing,” in Wright, Vincent, ed., Continuity and Change in France (London: George Allen ScUnwin, 1984).

93 Françoise Giroud, “Des bons enfants” (Good children), Le Monde, April 25, 1975.

94 Ancelin (fn. 89), 294.

95 CNAF, L'Action sociale et familiale des caisses d'allocations familiales: Orientations générates, 1981–1985, Circulate, 1315 (March 2, 1981).

96 Jenson and Sineau, “Quand ‘liberté de choix’ ne rime pas avec égalite républicaine” (When ‘free choice’ does not rhyme with republican equality), in Jenson and Sineau, eds., Qui doitgarder le jeune enfant? Modes d'accueilet travail des meres dans I'Europe en crise (Who should take care of the young child? Day care and mothers' employment in a Europe in crisis) (Paris: LGDJ, 1998), 152–53.

97 Antoine Math and Evelyne Renaudat, “Développer l'accueil des enfants ou creer l'emploi? Une lecture de l'evolution des politiques en matière de modes de garde” (Create child care or create employment? A reading of the evolution of child care policies), Recherches et Previsions 49 (September 1997).

98 Jenson and Sineau (fn. 96), 154.

99 van Kersbergen (fn. 11); and Esping-Andersen, (fn. 19).

100 Fix (fn. 75).

101 Bussemaker, “Recent Changes in European Welfare State Services: A Comparison of Child Care Politics in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands,” Working Paper 7.6, Center for European Studies, Harvard University, January 1997.

102 For details, see Morgan, “Whose Hand Rocks the Cradle? The Politics of Child Care Policy in Advanced Industrialized States” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2001).

103 The term is from Archambault (fn. 44). See Wijkstrom, Filip, “Changing Focus or Changing Role? The Swedish Nonprofit Sector in the 1990s,” German Policy Studies 1 (May 2000). Wijkstrom points out that, contrary to the commonly held view, the nonprofit sector is well developed in Sweden, but that its role in welfare and social services is substantially smaller there than in many continental European countries.

104 Some accounts of the development of public day care in Sweden and Denmark are Ruggie, Mary, The State and Working Women: A Comparative Study of Britain and Sweden (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); and Leira, Arnlaug, Welfare States and Working Mothers: The Scandinavian Experience (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).

105 Hinnfors, Jonas, “Stability througb Change: The Pervasiveness of Political Ideas,” Journal of Public Policy 19, 3 (1999).

106 Stephens, , “Religion and Politics in Three Northwest European Democracies,” Comparative Social Research 2 (1979), 136–37.

107 Bente Blanche Nicolaysen, “Voluntary Service Provision in a Strong Welfare State,” Working Paper 35, Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung, Mannheim, Germany, 2001.

108 Leira, , “Caring as Social Right: Cash for Child Care and Daddy Leave,” Social Politics 5, 3 (1998).

109 Karvonen, Lauri, “Christian Parties in Scandinavia: Victory Over the Windmills?” in Hanley, David, ed., Christian Democracy in Europe: A Comparative Perspective (London: Pinter Publishers, 1994); and Sainsbury, “Gender and the Social Democratic Welfare States,” in Sainsbury (fn. 13), 97–98.

110 Kröger, Teppo, “The Dilemma of Municipalities: Scandinavian Approaches to Child Day-Care Provision,” Journal of Social Policy 26, 4 (1997), 492–93.

111 There may be applications to some Eastern European countries as well, as some of these centralized states subordinated religious and other forces in civil society and used public day care and universal kindergartens as a way to help mobilize women's labor supply at a time when economic circumstances required it.

112 See chapters by Borchorst, Anette and by Bergqvist, Christina and Nyberg, Anita in Michel, Sonya and Mahon, Rianne, eds., Child Care Policy at the Crossroads: Gender and Welfare State Restructuring (New York and London: Routledge Press, 2002).

113 Bergqvist, , Kuusipalo, Jaana, and Styrkarsdóttir, Auòur, “The Debate on Childcare Policies,” in Bergqvist et al., eds., Nordic Democracies: Gender and Politics in the Nordic Countries (Oslo: Scandina vian University Press, 1999).

* The author would like to thank Andrei S. Markovits, Jonah Levy, and Martin Schain for their incisive comments and criticisms on an earlier version of this paper, as well as Nancy Bermeo, Ezra Suleiman, Erik Voeten, and two anonymous reviewers. This research was made possible by a Chateaubriand fellowship from the French government along with the generous support of the École Normale Supérieure.

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