Family and the Welfare State in Europe
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Family and the Welfare State in Europe

Intergenerational Relations in Ageing Societies

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber

This insightful book explores the role of both the family and the state in shaping the living conditions of the young and old in Europe. It provides a comparative theoretical and empirical analysis of age-related policies and welfare arrangements in Germany, France, Italy and Sweden.
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Chapter 8: Childcare between Family and State

Agnes Blome, Wolfgang Keck and Jens Alber


This chapter investigates the extent to which the care of children takes place primarily in the family or is undertaken by the state. Children remain the biggest obstacle to women’s employment. Hence the employment rate of childless women is distinctly higher than that of mothers at the same age. In addition, when mothers are employed, they work fewer hours (Uunk et al. 2005). We analyse in the following how effective public policy measures are in promoting the work–life balance, and in supporting the gainful employment of mothers. We focus on three questions: 1. 2. To what extent do our countries differ in the degree of their support, through family policy, in making family and occupation compatible? To what extent do the countries differ in the degree to which mothers reduce their employment, or reduce their working hours, after the birth of a child? To what extent are grandparents and fathers an alternative to public childcare? 3. 8.1 FAMILY-ORIENTED BENEFITS PROVIDED BY THE STATE Family-oriented benefits in kind are primarily provided in the form of state support for childcare. The legal regulations allowing for a paid absence from the workplace for child-rearing purposes (parental leave) form one part; childcare directly provided and/or financed by the state provides another. One central goal of such measures is to make employment compatible with raising a family. However, the effectiveness of these measures is contested. It is often claimed that the right to paid parental leave increases women’s employment rates and eases a return...

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