Work–Family Balance, Gender and Policy
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Work–Family Balance, Gender and Policy

Jane Lewis

This important book looks at the three main components of work–family policy packages – childcare services, flexible working patterns and entitlements to leave from work in order to care – across EU15 Member States, with comparative reference to the US. It also provides an in-depth examination of developments in the UK. Variations in national priorities, policy instruments, established policy orientations and the context for policy making in terms of employment patterns, fertility behaviour and attitudes towards work and care are highlighted.
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Chapter 2: The Policymaking Context: Behaviour and Attitudes with Mary Campbell

Jane Lewis


2. The policymaking context: behaviour and attitudes Since the late 1990s, the main concerns of European Union (EU) member states in relation to work and family policies, as well as the broader challenges facing welfare states, have centred on raising employment rates (particularly of women) and, in many countries, on low fertility rates. This chapter begins with an aggregate picture of these two issues in order to show the wide variations between countries, and indicates the difficulties in interpreting the relationships between them. The different national contexts in terms of these two dimensions of behaviour together with attitudes mean that different policy approaches are to be expected, even though policymakers often tend to consider only those aspects of these very complicated issues that seem directly relevant to the policy goal they have set. Nor is the context for policymaking limited to behaviour and attitudes. Policy packages on work and family have existed for some time in most European countries and, together with the variable strength of different policy actors in the different countries, exert important influence on what policymakers decide to do (see Chapters 3 and 4). Employment and fertility rates are related to one another, even though the mechanisms are far from clear. Before the mid-1980s it was assumed that the more women were in paid employment, the lower would be the fertility rate. But, beginning in the mid-1980s, this assumption ceased to hold. Some (but not all) Northern and Western European countries...

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