Handbook of Family Policy
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Handbook of Family Policy

Edited by Guðný B. Eydal and Tine Rostgaard

The Handbook of Family Policy examines how state and workplace policies support parents and their children in developing, earning and caring. With original contributions from 44 leading scholars, this Handbook provides readers with up-to-date knowledge on family policies and family policy research, taking stock of current literature as well as providing analyses of present-day policies, and where they should head in the future.
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Chapter 23: Children, poverty and public policy: a cross-national perspective

Janet C. Gornick and Emily Nell


This chapter by Gornick and Nell assesses child poverty in 24 high- and middle-income countries, using data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database. They assess poverty patterns using both relative and absolute poverty standards to account for variation in income levels both within and across countries. The authors analyse poverty outcomes based on (1) market income (income ‘prior to’ taxes and transfers); (2) income from the market plus ‘family transfers’; and (3) total household income. This disaggregation shows the extent to which – and where – states use public policies to reduce market-generated poverty among children. To flesh out the analyses of poverty reduction based on microdata, the authors shift vantage points and take a brief look at the association between family benefits (both cash and tax breaks, using macro-data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)) and child poverty reduction (due to redistribution, based on the LIS microdata). After assessing poverty and poverty reduction among all children, they consider two crucial risk factors that, within countries, shape children’s likelihood of being poor: family structure and parents’ employment.

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