Welfare States and Public Opinion

Welfare States and Public Opinion

Perceptions of Healthcare Systems, Family Policy and Benefits for the Unemployed and Poor in Europe

Claus Wendt, Monika Mischke and Michaela Pfeifer

Welfare States and Public Opinion comprises an informed inquiry into three fields of social policy – health policy, family policy, and unemployment benefits and social assistance. Though the analyses stem from research spanning fifteen countries across Europe, the conclusions can be applied to social policy problems in nations worldwide. Combining a detailed analysis of the institutional structure of social policy with the study of public attitudes toward healthcare, family policy, and benefits for the unemployed and poor, this book represents a new stream in public opinion research. The authors demonstrate that the institutional designs of social policies have a great impact on inequalities among social groups, and provide best practices for gaining public support for social policy reform.

Chapter 4: Family Policy – One for All?

Claus Wendt, Monika Mischke and Michaela Pfeifer

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, economics and finance, health policy and economics, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, family and gender policy, health policy and economics, welfare states


Family policy is a very broad field of social policy and includes many different kinds of government benefits that contribute to the health and well-being of families with children (Gornick et al. 1997). Family policy benefits include direct cash transfers (such as child allowances), tax expenditures (tax credits), in-kind benefits (housing) and direct services (public education and childcare). Additionally, other services that benefit all citizens, including families with children, could be included, such as healthcare (Gornick et al. 1997) or working-time policies that can help to free up parental caregiving time (Gornick and Heron 2006). Several comparative studies have investigated how family policy measures impact specific outcomes such as female labor market participation (Ferrarini 2006; Kangas and Rostgaard 2007), child poverty and well-being (Bradshaw and Finch 2002; Kamerman et al. 2003), fertility (Sleebos 2003; Ferrarini 2006) and gender-role attitudes (Sjöberg 2004; Ferrarini 2006). In his study on the impact of family policies on fertility rates in 21 OECD countries, Castles (2003) concludes that women postpone motherhood and have fewer children in countries where state support for the reconciliation of work and family is low. Public care facilities for children under the age of three, as well as flexible work arrangements, have the strongest positive effects on fertility rates. Studies analyzing the impact of family policies on women’s labor market participation show that women in countries with high service provision are more frequently employed and more likely to work full time compared with women in countries with less or only...

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