Enhanced maternity rights have had little effect on the prospects of female workers, according to new academic research.
A study by the London School of Economics (LSE), published in today’s Royal Economic Society’s Economic Journal, discovered that birth control is the biggest factor that has improved the lot of women since WW2.
In contrast, enhanced rights for women at work have had a negligible effect, the study found.
According to the LSE’s Silvia Pezzini, author of the research, the beneficial effects for women of improved maternity rights are offset by a reduction in their ’employability’, because organisations become more reluctant to take on women of childbearing age.
“The net effect on the welfare of women is negligible,” she said.
The study was based on data from more than 450,000 women in Britain and 11 other European countries since 1975.
Pezzini took responses to the questions on women’s “life satisfaction” and plotted them against changes in abortion laws, the availability of contraception, maternity rights and divorce laws.
Public sector union Unison challenged the findings. “It is one of these old-fashioned studies that looks at the benefits for the individual not the wider society,” a spokeswoman told the Sunday Times.
“This research just shows that despite 30 years of legislation there is still widespread discrimination against women in the workplace.”
Earlier this month, a study of 25,000 UK females, conducted by the University of Bath, revealed that the job satisfaction of women has been falling for the past 15 years.