Handbook on Gender and Social Policy
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Handbook on Gender and Social Policy

Edited by Sheila Shaver

Providing a state of the art overview, this comprehensive Handbook is an essential introduction to the subject of Gender and Social Policy. Bringing together original contributions and research from leading researchers it covers the theoretical perspectives of the field, the central policy terrain of gender inequalities of income, employment and care, and family policy. Examining gender and social policy at both the regional and national level, the Handbook is an excellent resource for advanced students and scholars of sociology, political science, women’s studies, policy studies as well as practitioners seeking to understand how gender shapes the contours of social policy and politics.
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Chapter 9: Family policies and the weakening of the male-breadwinner model

Rosa Daiger von Gleichen and Martin Seeleib-Kaiser


Family policies within the OECD world have undergone significant transformations. While family allowances, parental leave and childcare continue to vary significantly from country to country, policy change has followed a common trajectory, moving away from support for the male breadwinner and towards the dual-earner household and to reconcile tensions between work and family. The chapter identifies early adopters and laggards of policy change among OECD countries as well as the ‘drivers’ leading to change. It shows that the early adopters in Scandinavia were largely driven by the normative aim for gender equality, while in laggard countries more instrumental reasoning, such as improving the use of human capital through increased female employment or addressing demographic challenges, was employed. Methodologically, the chapter is based on an analysis of secondary literature as well as various data sets.

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