The social penalty of work/family balance. Comparing Australian men and women's social contact with ex-household friends and family
Social contact is an important correlate for wellbeing, with gender dimensions. Women risk social disconnection through financial incapacity from labour market disengagement, and men from an inability to manage work-life commitments in marriage, separation and retirement. This may reflect Emerick's (2006) suggestions that women prefer informal 'bonding' contact, while men prefer work-oriented 'bridging' contact, but raises concerns of social time poverty for singles, and bonding/bridging trade-off inequities for partners. This paper examines gendered social contact with ex-household friends and family using the 2006 Australian Time Use Survey. Results show that men have less social contact despite all controls; that labour market disengagement - student, female part-time, or male not in the labour force - adds to social time; and that partnered parents have the least social contact, while separated non-parents and singles have the most. It highlights the importance of masculinity and nuclear-familialism issues in understanding 'work-family-social life' balance.