The University of Bergen and Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou recently cohosted a workshop on work/life balance in Guangzhou.
Work/life balance is a relatively new concept in China, and the aim of the workshop was to bring together scholars and experts from Norway, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to exchange views on why this topic should get more attention also in China.
China is facing demographic and structural changes such as an ageing population, low fertility rates and a smaller workforce. Work is characterised by long hours with extensive overtime. Without a comprehensive welfare system, combining work and family life can be challenging, especially for working mothers. This in turn can have a negative effect on both family quality and work productivity.
The representatives from the University of Bergen, led by professor Stein Kuhnle, gave presentations about the experiences in reconciling work and family in Norway and Europe. Norway has amongst the highest fertility rates in Europe and also the highest female employment rate. Good public child care facilities, comprehensive parental leave including 12 weeks of paternal leave, combined with numerous flexible work arrangements, contribute to a good work-life balance.
The School of Government at Sun Yat-Sen University will edit a book in Chinese based on the contributions at the workshop.
To further strengthen the academic collaboration between the two universities, Stein Kuhnle was also appointed an honorary professor at the School of Government at Sun Yat-Sen University from 2011 to 2014.