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'Breadwinner welfare states' are characterized by the distinction they draw between work and family life, between earning fathers and caring mothers. Dutch welfare arrangements organized do-it-yourself mothering more radically than elsewhere in Europe. Married women participated less often in the labor market and collective facilities for child care were absent.
Since the 1970s, the number of working mothers has increased; after the 1990s it became official policy to stimulate labor participation from all adults, mothers included. But saying goodbye to the Dutch heritage of traditional domestic mothering remains problematic. The increase in paid employment for mothers causes confusion about the relationship between public and private domains.
Welfare schemes are ill-adjusted to a situation in which both men and women participate in the labor market. This can be especially seen in the unsystematic organization of school dinners, modeled on the patterns found in the home. Dinner ladies work in the margins of the employment market; what they do is not seen as 'real work', they are not trained to 'educate' the children, schools tend to regard them as outsiders and treat them with condescension. Children will then imitate the arrogant behavior they observe from their teachers and parents.