People in many countries have to spend more and more time away from their home. Why is this? What are the effects on people themselves and their families?
It is true that in many countries a feature of modern life is that people tend to spend more time away from home. While some reasons can be identified to explain this trend, the effects on individuals and their families must be considered as largely negative. There are two very important factors that influence many people to be away from home for longer. Firstly, contemporary economic realities have transformed men’s working lives. One inevitable consequence of the new global economy is the disappearance of traditional ways of life, so that individuals now have to seek far and wide to find work to support their family or to improve their job prospects. Secondly, in the search for a better standard of living, women are abandoning traditional patterns of behaviour, so that dual-income families and working mothers are becoming the norm. The family in which the mother stayed at home to look after the children is incompatible with modern aspirations for a better lifestyle, which can only be achieved by working longer hours. Both factors have important consequences for individuals and their families. Men who move away to work in another city, or even another country, often become economic migrants, labouring for a minimum wage or being forced to accept conditions of sweated labour. Although they may work to send money home to their families, like many guest workers in the UK or Germany, the ties of kinship with their families are weakened. Women who go out to work full-time have less influence in shaping their children’s personality during a child’s formative years. As a result, children may develop behavioural problems in the future. In conclusion, some reasons for this trend can readily be identified, and the consequences are far-reaching for individuals and their families.