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 11: Social investment, poverty and lone parents

Jane Jenson


Transnational and supranational organizations as well as national governments in both the global South and the global North began promoting the social investment perspective in the mid-1990s. Within it, mothering, social care and the consequences of family transformation are at the forefront as social problems, and investments in human capital are preferred solutions. The perspective particularly targets lone parents because a primary policy objective is the reduction of poverty, especially the poverty of children in vulnerable families. Lone-parent families often live at the intersection of two risk factors; having only one potential earner and being female-headed and thus negatively affected by the gender wage gap. Nonetheless, the vulnerabilities of such families are not the same everywhere. Cross-national differences can be attributed to employment rates and variation in the systems of social protection and family policy. To unpack both similarities and differences, the chapter first examines data from across the OECD world. Then it homes in on three European cases from three welfare regime types – Sweden, Britain and the Netherlands – the goal being to tease out effects of intersections of employment and social policy. The chapter concludes by assessing how successfully the social investment perspective has addressed the needs of lone-parent families headed by women.

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