The Costs of Children
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The Costs of Children

Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe

Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson

The expert contributors provide an assessment of how countries can handle the fair allocation of the costs of childcare. They look at the experience within Europe in recent years and show in particular how these interrelate with the objectives of improving income, employment and social inclusion. The book’s conclusion reveals that choice is the key ingredient as families have different views and different degrees of support available from their relatives. Income and social inclusion can provide choice but ironically employment does not always. An employment-based model can sometimes narrow people’s choices, particularly for people on low wages. The major concern is that most existing systems effectively discriminate against mothers.
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Chapter 9: Out of the frying pan, into the fire: Hungarian parental leave policies from a gender equality perspective


Approaches to childbearing in Hungary are characterised by a number of contradictions. Hungarians consider themselves as people fond of children, yet the actual willingness to have children is very low. Hungarian fertility rates are among the lowest in Europe, while spending on in-cash family benefits is extremely high. Yet, fertility is a political priority. Resolving the demographic crisis is the main rationale in the design of childcare policies. Research has demonstrated that other aspects of family policies – combating poverty and social exclusion, providing equality of opportunities, increasing the female employment rate, acknowledging the plurality of family forms and lifestyles, and improving the work-life balance – are overshadowed by concerns of fertility and procreation (Neményi and Takács, 2006). Rising neo-liberalism in the economy and conservatism in family matters after the regime change have influenced attitudes and practices related to the family, childbearing and childcare.

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