Chapter 2: The Policymaking Context: Behaviour and Attitudes with Mary Campbell
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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