Parenting and Democracy in Contemporary Europe
Edited by David G. Mayes and Mark Thomson
Chapter 13: Redistributing the costs of childcare and its democratic implications
Welfare policy is fundamentally about redistribution, whether it is redistribution within a family, or more widely across society. Such redistribution may require financial transactions or just the use of time. It may involve simply a transfer, where no current or future recompense is required or it may involve the accumulation of credits or debts, where the initial transfer has to be repaid or otherwise recompensed. Deciding how to go about this is one of the most fundamental features of the democratic system. Childcare and the fair allocation of the costs of having children is an archetypal example of this process and reflects one of the most fundamental and indeed intractable features of redistribution, as it deals with aspects that are fundamentally gender and aged based. Young children can neither look after themselves nor pay for this to be done. Moreover they are not capable of taking decisions about how that care should be organised even though they will be heavily affected by those decisions. Only women can bear children.
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