Family & Globalization

Article excerpt

In In her article "An Emerging Global Market," Sassen highlights both the growing segmentation of specialized labor markets and the increasing importance of employing local professionals as key changes in the parameters of the global labor market. I believe that Sassen's insights have important implications for the place of the family in the global labor market. The optimal job locations for married partners may not always coincide with each other, and therefore, married households with dual careers are much less mobile than single individuals. The rise in the number of dual career households may therefore exacerbate die difficulties a global firm faces in meeting its demand for skilled labor. One solution to the immobility of human capital caused by joint career concerns is hiring local professionals. In this way, rather than trying to mobilize a skilled individual and his or her spouse, the firm seeks and trains talent at the local level. This family perspective on migration further emphasizes the growing importance of employing local professionals by global firms, much as Sassen points to in her article.

The past four decades have seen a considerable rise in the number of dual- career households. Skilled professionals are increasingly paired up with partners who are equally skilled and have equal labor market opportunities. This rise is partly a result of the increased labor force participation rates and educational attainment rates of women. In the past, it was common for married couples to choose their geographic location according to the husband's job status, as men's labor market opportunities generally dominated those of women. The location choice for a married couple poses a much more complex problem now, as gender differentials have declined, and it is no longer the case that one partner's opportunities always dominate those of the other. One important consequence of the expanding global labor market is that it leads to a greater diversity of geographic options that individuals face when searching for jobs. This makes it more difficult for spouses to be in the same location while both pursuing their best job opportunities. …