Perceptions of Healthcare Systems, Family Policy and Benefits for the Unemployed and Poor in Europe
4. Family policy – one for all? Family policy is a very broad field of social policy and includes many different kinds of government benefits that contribute to the health and well-being of families with children (Gornick et al. 1997). Family policy benefits include direct cash transfers (such as child allowances), tax expenditures (tax credits), in-kind benefits (housing) and direct services (public education and childcare). Additionally, other services that benefit all citizens, including families with children, could be included, such as healthcare (Gornick et al. 1997) or working-time policies that can help to free up parental caregiving time (Gornick and Heron 2006). Several comparative studies have investigated how family policy measures impact specific outcomes such as female labor market participation (Ferrarini 2006; Kangas and Rostgaard 2007), child poverty and well-being (Bradshaw and Finch 2002; Kamerman et al. 2003), fertility (Sleebos 2003; Ferrarini 2006) and gender-role attitudes (Sjöberg 2004; Ferrarini 2006). In his study on the impact of family policies on fertility rates in 21 OECD countries, Castles (2003) concludes that women postpone motherhood and have fewer children in countries where state support for the reconciliation of work and family is low. Public care facilities for children under the age of three, as well as flexible work arrangements, have the strongest positive effects on fertility rates. Studies analyzing the impact of family policies on women’s labor market participation show that women in countries with high service provision are more frequently employed and more likely to work full time compared with women...
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