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Restructuring Family Policies

Restructuring Family Policies: Convergences and Divergences

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 308
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  • Book Info
    Restructuring Family Policies
    Book Description:

    Drawing from nation-based research, cross-national studies, and international data bases,Restructuring Family Policiessuccessfully integrates mainstream academic debates about restructuring welfare states with feminist research findings and current policy concerns.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7928-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
    Maureen Baker
  5. 1 Restructuring Family Policies
    (pp. 3-22)

    In 2004, Pope John Paul II initiated a report asking governments to help women attend to ‘their family duties’ when they enter the labour market (‘Pope has Warning’ 2004). The Vatican rejected feminist ideologies that men and women are essentially the same, and appealed to governments to assist women to cope with their ‘maternal vocation,’ suggesting that the recent decline in fertility, especially in southern Europe, is symptomatic of a ‘breakdown in values.’ Greater selfishness among couples that are ‘more interested in consumer goods than creating life’ was targeted as the cause of fertility decline. This papal warning is only...

  6. 2 Socio-demographic Changes and Family Policy Restructuring
    (pp. 23-40)

    Socio-demographic changes in family patterns are the first of three major influences on governments considering the restructuring of family policies. Governments are pressured to modify social programs when people’s daily lives seem out of step with the assumptions underlying those programs. Over the past few decades, family demography has changed substantially in most OECD countries, with lower rates of legal marriage, more cohabitation, declining fertility, higher rates of separation and divorce, more mothers in the workforce, more re-partnering, and aging populations. Although many of the trends are in a similar direction, the pace of change, the starting point, the timing,...

  7. 3 Welfare Regimes, National Politics, and Family Policies
    (pp. 41-64)

    In chapter 2, I acknowledged that socio-demographic changes in family patterns encourage governments to restructure family policies but argued that the various ways these issues are framed and the policy solutions offered to deal with the perceived problems differ considerably. In this chapter, a second set of influences on the nature and direction of family program reform is introduced. I argue that historical patterns of social provision and the prevalent debates in national politics can substantially alter the restructuring of family policies by excluding some policy options and giving preference to others.

    Systems of social provision involve assumptions and ideologies...

  8. 4 Growing Internationalization and Family Policies
    (pp. 65-83)

    The previous chapter showed that family policy restructuring is influenced by national politics but also by welfare regimes, or existing patterns of social provision. Welfare regimes are resistant to new agendas that threaten either cultural beliefs (about ‘good mothering,’ for example) or vested interests generated by existing programs and institutional structures. This chapter, which discusses the third influence on the restructuring of family policies, focuses on the increasing internationalization of work, travel, and communication. I argue that three aspects of ‘globalization’ influence living arrangements and family policy reform. These include the internationalization of labour markets; increased international travel, migration, and...

  9. 5 Reproductive Health and Childbirth
    (pp. 84-112)

    This chapter demonstrates that guidelines from international organizations such as the World Health Organisation and United Nations encourage national governments to provide the necessary programs to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, promote contraceptive use, practise safer childbirth, minimize unnecessary technological interventions at childbirth, and extend paid breastfeeding breaks to employed mothers. However, formal agreements among OECD countries tend to focus on some reproductive issues more than others, and especially the rights of parent-workers at the time of childbirth. These agreements pay less attention to more controversial issues such as access to abortion, the rise of medically assisted conception, or the steady...

  10. 6 Work, Gender, and Parenthood
    (pp. 113-142)

    This chapter focuses on parenthood and work, including the strategies parents, policy makers, and employers have developed to more effectively integrate caring and employment. We first note how gender interacts with parenthood in paid and unpaid work and then explore policy options for paid parental leave from employment. (Childcare issues are discussed separately in the next chapter.) Despite international pressure on governments to help parents integrate paid work and family responsibilities, substantial cross-national differences remain in employment statistics and work/family policies. Generally, the liberal welfare states have been the most resistant to regulating employment conditions and acknowledging that parents (especially...

  11. 7 The Care and Welfare of Children
    (pp. 143-167)

    As more mothers work for pay or are encouraged to see themselves as future employees, the daytime care of children becomes a pressing social policy issue. However, the improvement of public childcare services is not the only policy concern in this realm. Public discourse suggests that family problems such as child abuse and delinquency are increasing as more parents are unavailable to supervise their children during working hours. Ideally, states and voluntary organizations develop programs to prevent parents and their children from falling into dire circumstances, but resources for preventive services are often stretched to the limit. This is especially...

  12. 8 Social Housing and Income Support
    (pp. 168-208)

    This chapter discusses housing and income support programs in OECD countries. The two issues are combined in one chapter because ‘welfare’ payments (or income support for low-income families) often include a housing allowance or supplement. The chapter begins with four arguments used to justify state income support for families with children, which are based on different assumptions and political priorities. The main contention of the chapter is that similar welfare regimes generally promote comparable income support programs, although numerous variations arise from historical differences in the development of the welfare state, the relative strength of local interest groups, and the...

  13. 9 Divorce, Child Support, and International Migration
    (pp. 209-234)

    In this chapter, I examine some of the social and legal implications of relationship breakdown in a world where fewer people legally marry, relationships have become less stable, and more people travel internationally. Child custody after separation is sometimes divided between parents, but more divorced parents cross international borders to find work or start a new life. The first half of this chapter discusses the convergence in divorce trends, including laws related to marriage breakdown, child custody, and child support. The second half focuses on multilateral agreements that attempt to ensure that crossing international borders does not release parents from...

  14. 10 Strengthening and Reducing Family Support
    (pp. 235-256)

    In the previous five chapters of this book, a number of specific family issues have been discussed in order to illustrate and expand on the factors influencing family policy restructuring that were outlined in chapters 2 to 4. I argued that socio-demographic changes in family patterns tend to provide a strong impetus for national family policy reform but that politicians and interest groups interpret the meaning and potential outcomes of these trends in quite different ways. Within countries, these varying interpretations encourage controversy and negotiations among political parties and interest groups about policy solutions, leading to cross-national differences in social...

  15. Works Cited
    (pp. 257-288)
  16. Index
    (pp. 289-297)