This study examines the extent to which young people’s future employment preferences in India are influenced concurrently by formal workplace policies and informal caregivers’ support.
Scholars have focused on how young individuals’ work-family ideals are shaped by workplace institutions to better understand the persistence of gender inequalities in the labor market. Yet the literature on work-family policy examines primarily the effects of formal policies, overlooking the role of informal caregivers. Consequently, we know little about the relative influence of formal and informal support on young individuals’ work-family preferences and why one system may be preferred over another.
The study used an original survey-experimental data from an online sample of young, highly educated and unmarried respondents in India (N = 482) to assess their employment preferences when they have a family and a young child, while conditioning them to formal and informal work-family support. Logistic regressions examined the relationship between different support types and respondents’ employment preferences.
When not conditioned to any support, most women preferred part-time and most men preferred full-time employment. Women were twice as likely to prefer full-time employment with informal support compared to formal support, but men’s preferences were not sensitive to either type of support.
The effectiveness of work-family policies in challenging gendered behaviors depends on the credibility of formal as opposed to informal institutions.