Who Benefits most from Family Policies?
- Wim Van Lancker (University of Antwerp, Belgium)
- Rense Nieuwenhuis (Stockholm University, Sweden)
Family policies have received ample attention in the (comparative) study of welfare state outcomes. Literature reviews show a reasonable consensus on family policy outcomes (e.g. Thévenon & Solaz, 2014) with respect to work-family reconciliation policies such as paid leave and public childcare services being associated with higher maternal employment, as well as with respect to financial support policies such as family allowances and tax benefits to families with children representing a disincentive to maternal employment. At the same time, financial support policies provide strong buffers against the risk of living in poverty, while some leave policies (notably home care allowances) have a negative impact on maternal employment.
The attention now seems to turn to the question whether these family policy outcomes are homogenous across the population, or varies across people with different social backgrounds. Examples of such studies show that uptake of public childcare is biased against lower educated parents (Ghysels & Van Lancker, 2011), and that both paid leave and family allowances reduce poverty more strongly among single-parent families compared to twoparent families (Maldonado & Nieuwenhuis, 2015). Moreover, studies drawing on natural experiments tend to yield more nuanced results in terms of maternal employment gains compared with regression-based approaches, showing that employment gains may differ for people with different social backgrounds as well.
This stream seeks to bring together theory-driven, empirical studies on the question who benefits most from family policies, focusing on hitherto understudied issues, with the aim to explore new avenues in family policy research.
Examples of possible contributions include, but are not limited to:
- Fathers or mothers: with fathers taking up leave becoming (somewhat) more common in various countries, the time seems right to address the question whether and how it affects their careers differently than is the case for mothers, how it impacts on household financial resources, and which kind of fathers actually make use of these leave schemes.
- Children from high or low SES parents. Does early childhood education and care level the playing field, or does it exacerbate existing differences in children’s outcomes? What are the redistributive effects of ECEC policies?
- The ‘institutional design of family policy’: Does universal coverage lead to universal use or take up? What kind of policy design yields the most equal outcomes? How do complementarities between policies come in to play to achieve more equal outcomes?
- The whole of society: in addition to papers examining specific sub-groups, we also invite papers addressing outcomes at the societal level, such as economic growth, inequality, and trends in poverty.
- Other options include differences in family policy outcomes across families with different levels of education, changing family structures, migrant histories, children with special needs etc.
We welcome comparative papers as well as case studies, preferably using quantitative approaches to these questions.
〈 List of Stream Themes